Anticipation can be a cruel thing. It can sometimes be so strong that it can only naturally lead to sheer disappointment. However, for rising alternative metal trio Puppy, you feel instinctively with their debut album, ‘The Goat’, that their sense of quality control will be firmly in check.
Their preceding singles and EPs in recent years have helped them to stand out from their contemporaries, and they’ve streamlined everything great about them into one glorious, riff-filled extravaganza.
‘Poor Me’ is a notable example, with the first riff bringing a thunderous stomp, yet we’re typically seduced by guitarist/vocalist Jock Norton‘s excellent ear for melody in the chorus. The personal lyrical narratives also show there’s possibly more bubbling underneath than the band’s humorous demeanour lets on.
Every now and then, that age-old debate rears its head; do we need guitar solos? Are they relevant? You try telling that to Norton, whose rip-roaring solos feature in at least half the songs on here. It’s also clear that the noticeable sheen on the production considerably benefits Puppy rather than hinders them. The re-recorded version of early favourite ‘Entombed’, with its echoed backing vocals and added harmonies, make an already sinister song an even more haunting beast entirely.
‘And So I Burn’ makes excellent use of dual guitar melodies and the band’s signature vocal harmonies, whilst ‘World Stands Still’ is an anthemic number that challenges you to not pump your fist with a chorus that is quite the earworm.
On the whole, the album asserts the band’s metal identity, and sometimes the alternative rock leanings of their previous work can seem a little sparse. Yet, the gorgeously melodic ‘Nightwalker’ is one of the biggest highlights, and a similar fix is gained from ‘Handlebars’ before the onslaught of riffs that is ‘Demons’ brings the album to the grandest of finishes.
Whether you just want riffs in the style of Metallica and Alice In Chains, or the alternative rock charm of Weezer and Ash, Puppy have got something for you. Yes, some influences are easy to pick out at times, but they’ve managed to seamlessly merge together two sub-genres that seem almost worlds apart on paper.
There’s a subtle charm with ‘The Goat’, yet it still leaves you with a lot to take from it. It’s easy to forget that Puppy are still at an early stage in their career, but this record should solidify them as one of the most promising bands in the country. Ignore the ignorant and out-of-touch naysayers, rock music is most definitely alive and kicking.