God Damn These Bite Marks, Deep In My Arteries: the Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck.

I was first exposed to the wondrously wry lyricisms of John Darnielle and the entailed gallivanting acoustica of the Mountain Goats around twenty-five months ago. Sanity and grasp of reality in tatters following a cerebrum-rollocking weekend of hedonism at Butlins' Bloc Weekend, We Shall All Be Healed provided apt soundtrack to the grim return to normality as a mustard VW van meandered through Somerset wilderness, and my alcohol-entangled mind was cured. More or less two years later, All Eternals Deck, an LP predictably bursting with effervescence and named after 'an apocryphal tarot deck' was left to repeat repeatedly as this year's Bloc bonanza had left nothing but a malfunctioning lump of grey matter in the void between my ears. Again, as the melodramatic orchestral swooping and swooning of Damn These Vampires tumbled down the internal ducts of said ears, miraculously, my dehydrated body and wilting muscles were healed as Darnielle lamented God-damned bite marks deep in his arteries. Somewhat more scatty than the sacred The Life Of The World To Come, All Eternals Deck sees Darnielle ramble through the length and breadth of acoustic genre, from the gospel plod of the aforementioned opener to the ramshackle punk of Estate Sale Sign, his abstract lyrical work threading the record together with fraying twine. The wayward vocals of Birth of Serpents are particularly evocative of the more raggedy moments of the album that started this infatuation, whilst the subdued hum of Age of Kings is almost medieval in aesthetic. The off-kilter minor key melancholia of The Autopsy Garland is a little too coarse despite Darnielle's signature couth, whilst the baritone choral harmonies of High Hawk Season are so pastiche they ought to run on Broadway. The jaunty, staccato bass rattle of Prowl Great Cain reverts to the good amidst the occasionally bad and the ugly (High Hawk Season the heinous anomaly), and Sourdoire Valley Song meanwhile comes across as The Wave Pictures hiking up the emotivity substantially, encircled by minimal piano theatrics. The almost a cappella slump of For Charles Bronson is a highlight that, whilst refraining from hammering home the decibel level, hits celestial highs, chiming guitars ascending to a climax that blissfully tails off and fades out as All Eternals Deck does nothing to disprove Darnielle's messiahship.