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The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck 

The opening song on All Eternals Deck (The Mountain Goats' millionth record) depicts brave young cowboys who must crawl till dawn in order to survive the abuse of vampires.

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The opening song on All Eternals Deck (The Mountain Goats' millionth record) depicts brave young cowboys who must crawl till dawn in order to survive the abuse of vampires. As with all John Darnielle (the primary Goat) songs, this one is a complete story (with sentences, not just pretty words) and sets up an album revolving around survival. All Eternals Deck is probably most similar to the dark, metal band imagery of 2008's Heretic Pride, but the characters Darnielle presented on that album didn't survive. On Deck, Darnielle's characters surprisingly continue going despite being attacked, misread, surrounded by mundane circumstances, dumped or finding teeth marks on their neck.

The sound presented on Deck shouldn't surprise those fans who joined last decade. If you're a veteran fan of John Darnielle's early boom box recorded tunes you're probably still whining about Darnielle's favor to embrace a rock band sound. Despite forgoing lo-fi some nine years ago, Darnielle hasn't lost any of his literate charm and Deck is a testimony to this.

Musically speaking, Deck is equally likable. On "Beautiful Gas Mask," Peter Hughes offers a highly favorable bass line while Jon Wurster displays impeccable control over his drum kit as he gently taps his way in between Darnielle's words and strums allowing the song to build. The following track, "High Hawk Season," is the closest the Goats have ever come to an a cappella number and proves Darnielle is always willing to improve his musical craft. "Our Scorpion Squadron" and "Never Quite Free" are just too gorgeous not to repeat.

The songs on All Eternals Deck don't revolve around epic moments, rather day-to-day stuff, but Darnielle's ability to present these morsels as significant, reflects hope in a time when most have been shortchanged. I'm not sure I'd be able to drag myself through the night if I were preyed on by the dead, but that's exactly how some have existed in these unstable times. If this is you, The Mountain Goats are on your side.

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