Year of the Goat’s third full-length album, Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis, keeps up their usual brand of doomy occult rock, but something about the delivery is considerably different than before. The band still adheres to their beloved 70s-inspired tropes, but it’s a more streamlined listening experience compared to their other albums due to more accessible song sequencing and more energetic pacing. The more sinister atmosphere also feels like a throwback to 2011’s Lucem Ferre EP, albeit with a bit more oomph behind it.
I don’t think anybody will be calling Year of the Goat a metal band anytime soon, but this album’s musicianship does have some heavier tinges. The flamboyant wails still trigger associations with Muse’s Matthew Bellamy, but some subtle King Diamond-esque grit gives them a more grizzled character while the backing choirs nicely fill out the arrangements. The guitars also show off plenty of hard rock twang with hints of a darker undercurrent sprinkled throughout that ultimately explode on the closing “Subicio.”
What’s really interesting about Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis is how the tracks are ordered. Seeing how the band’s past two albums were quick to throw out an epic track early on, it’s nice to see them hold off until the midway and endpoints this time around. The album subsequently flows smoother and isn’t quite as overwhelming for casual listeners. Though with the catchier songs sitting more toward the back half, I’m not sure if the band took full advantage of this setup.
But for what it’s worth, Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis features some of the snappiest songwriting under the Year of the Goat banner. This is ironically best exemplified in the album’s two epic tracks as their structures are decidedly more straightforward than the busier fare that tends to come with such lengths. “Ira” is the album’s strongest track thanks to its wintery atmosphere and slow-burn blues pacing while the closing “Subicio” goes for a full-on fourteen-minute doom dirge with fluctuating motifs. The upbeat catchiness of tracks like “Superbia” and “Avaritia” is also hard to deny, even if the latter gets a little close to sounding like secondhand Ghost.
Overall, Year of the Goat’s third album is easily their most accessible and enjoyable effort thus far. On top of the band’s inherently pleasant 70s rock style, the songs are the best they’ve ever put together and the layout helps them pop even more. The album might’ve benefitted from a few more adjustments and part of me wishes they had leaned even more on those heavier influences, but this is a strong achievement that will make a happy addition to any Scooby-Doo Chase Music playlist.