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Driving the Ritual Dagger Into Flesh..... - 45%

Muse_Perverse696, June 14th, 2011

....Before realizing it was not the flesh of the sacrifice, but your own that had been pierced.

Before, I had not invested my time so much as I did with this album. As it renders itself into a realm of utter redundancy, by presenting with some of the most boring material I had ever seen a band put forth; to what seems to be a rather lackluster effort over all, with very little able to be heard amidst the rabble brought forth the majority of the record.

The performances of the entire cast of this doomed production fit right along with the majority of the music featured. No lead guitar work (which would include solos unfortunately), with the guitarist overall performance seem rather mechanical; as if he where as bored as I was.
The drummer is there but does his duties and never seems to do anything mildly interesting and he also seems to be buried by production; to the point to where if he should do something, that would be intended to catch my attention, it would largely go unnoticed. The bassist is the only one I feel sorry for, he is no where to be found save an incident or two (I remember at lest one, I could be wrong).
The final contributor and star of the show is the vocalist who, production wise, seems to benefit the most out this semi-horrific event by taking center stage; he alternates from a sub standard growl/scream, a pure black metal shriek, a occasional lower growl and whispers. With the growl/scream being the most comfortable.

Rare is it where ever the pure black metal vocals do decide to show themselves, but to his credit, the vocalist does know how to implement them rather effectively; one such occasion being the beginning of the title track, for they sound prefect in unison with the chugging put forth by the guitarist in one of his few redeeming moments.
But it is also rare that the vocalist really shuts up. Most, including the four worthy of respect, feature him go on and on for nearly the entire duration of each and every song.

But really, this album is not as bad as some I have the displeasure of hearing. With the beginning offering hope with tracks 1-4 being nearly devoid of the mediocrity that seems rather prevalent throughout.
An example of this would be the track "My Eyes are Spears Of Chaos". The track is nearly devoid of any boring or trivial moments, featuring riffing with a sort of punk rock felling to them that are found in each and every of the aforementioned tracks.

Should you want an example of how bad it is exactly. After the beginning of the title track the music there after seemed to run together, as colors featured in creation of a panting in the wrong environment would, creating the gray mass that makes up the disposable second part of the album. I can be listening to "A Haunting Curse... " one minute and "...Of Ashen Slumber" the next, only noticing the change due to the fact "...Of Ashen Slumber" is an instrumental and without the vocalist's presence.
If it where not for the four songs in the beginning (and the one instance in the title track) the disk would serve as kindling and nothing more.

Download the first four, then forget about the rest.

Awesome, as usual - 89%

Noktorn, February 27th, 2010

Goatwhore is without a doubt one of the best mainstream extreme metal bands out there today. Few other artists on major labels like Metal Blade are able to write music as staggeringly consistent and entertaining as these four guys from NOLA, and they're one of the few cases where I can say the metal scene as a whole is correct in their appraisal of a band. 'A Haunting Curse', the band's third full-length, lives up to the incredible standards set by the previous two albums, expanding upon the natural sound of the band while still retaining the unique sound that has defined them throughout their career. This is, in short, essential.

If you've heard 'The Eclipse Of Ages Into Black' or 'Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun', you essentially know what to expect here: violent yet elegant black/death metal with a certain rock or punk edge to the songwriting which infuses the tracks with a catchiness and listenability far beyond that of your stock death or black metal band. This rock and punk influence actually comes out more fully than ever on 'A Haunting Curse', with many riffs which hearken back to old Celtic Frost and thrash records without ever seeming at odds with the more extreme blast and tremolo-driven sound the band is known for. Goatwhore's pacing is impeccable; they know exactly when to switch riffs and rhythms up to keep the listener guessing but still maintain a very coherent songwriting flow. It's undoubtedly one of the smoothest, most constantly pleasing listens I've heard in the past few years.

I've always liked how Goatwhore manages to keep their songs in a pretty reasonable timeframe; even the longest track is still under five minutes. Despite this, none of the tracks feel like they need any more time to expand on their ideas; as previously stated, the pacing of this album is just about perfect. In addition to the songwriting chops, this album has phenomenal production. Full, clear, and balanced, it's a great example to other extreme metal bands as to how an album should sound. Particular note has to be given to the drum production, which is nearly as exact and flawless as drum sound can get; it's up there with 'Covenant' in my book.

As expected, this is a release that absolutely should be purchased by any extreme metal fan. Goatwhore's incredible consistency and quality continues through this album, and anyone who enjoyed the last two should put this on their 'next to buy' list.

American Violence Put to Good Use - 87%

XuL_Excelsi, December 25th, 2009

At the risk of generalization and gross injustice, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the US rarely produces decent metal, with exceptions of course. Goatwhore seems to be one such exception. In spite of what their laughable name may lead you to believe, Goatwhore delivers a very solid performance on “A Haunting Curse”.

This is clearly American death/thrash metal, but it is not to be compared to the likes of Dying Fetus or Misery Index. Here we have a very unique take on the genre, with tremendously catchy songs and an energetic feel throughout the album. The headbang moments are endless here, with every song filled with so much spite and anger that you’ll be bouncing and moshing on an impulse, compulsively. Listening to “A Haunting Curse” is a strangely uplifting experience, to the extent that one simply cannot sit still! However, that’s not all there is to it. The music has a lot more than the initial impression it creates. Showing way more diversity than the average death metal band, there are moments of overwhelming darkness and even a few melodic sections. This is, therefore, a thoroughly well-written album that has more than the sum of its parts.

A particular delight on this album is the immensely powerful vocals. Not satisfied with run-of-the-mill death metal growls, Goatwhore opted for uniquely painful screams and distorted mid-range growls. It is a very effective voice of anger, perfectly fitting the scornful music and lyrics. Although the vocalist is somewhat lacking in range, he more than makes up for it with a frighteningly furious delivery. The lyrics are also way better than you might expect, a collection of raging anthems of Armageddon with good structure and a decent vocabulary, for Louisiana anyway.

The instruments feel very tight here, as if not composed separately. All the parts agree with each other, and the instruments flow excellently. The guitars are very basic, completely devoid of any solos or complex time signatures, but effective nonetheless. Featuring less of the usual palm-muting or pinch-harmonics littering all American death metal albums, “A Haunting Curse” boasts very impressive guitaring, with catchy riffs swimming in aggression. Clever use of power-chords and tremolo-picking ensures that this album never drags or becomes boring, even after many repeated listens. The bass has many impressive moments, particularly on the title track, and is overall well-written and sufficiently prominent.

The drumming is astounding on this album. Tremendously fast and heavy, it suits the music of Goatwhore to a tee. While the drums are a lot less technical than the work of Kevin Talley, for example, they are just as fast and aggressive. Driving the music incessantly forward and showing no signs of letting up, Zack Simmons shows immense talent and fury. Overall, this music is insanely heavy in spite of being basic and straightforward. These infectiously catchy songs are impossible to tire of, and “A Haunting Curse” is the most blasphemous and barbaric delight ever to greet our ears, especially if you consider its unlikely home in Louisiana.

Goatwhore certainly deserves more recognition for this album, because I believe they possess amazing talent. Throughout addictive headbanging and slower ominous moments and uncharacteristic melodic sections, this album entertains with every second. My faith in American metal is restored.

Blackened Death "Meh"-tal - 60%

B3h3m0th, April 30th, 2008

I heard about Goatwhore on the internet and decided to give them a listen, starting with this album considering it received the highest review of the three albums they’ve released.

My thoughts are that this album isn’t bad, but it’s only slightly above average. The song structure is pretty much the same in each song, riff 1 for about 20 seconds, then riff 2 for about 30 seconds, riff 3 for about 20 seconds, and then for the rest of the song it’s just a bunch of riffs arranged in an awkward manner, sometimes even leaving you thinking that the track has changed. Every song is like this, and after about 3 or 4 tracks I decided it probably was a lost cause but I’d hear the rest out, to find it was like that all the way through.

This album is definitely blackened death metal (or black/death, whichever you choose) as their page on this site says, but it’s nothing like the two blackened death bands I was previously familiar with, Behemoth and Belphegor. The vocals are raspy like a black metal vocalist’s lyrics, they actually reminded me of Shagrath’s rasps in Dimmu Borgir since they were easy to make out. They are also, in parts, a deep death-metal like growl but the words are still easily made out. Unlike their other two albums (which I later listened to) there is very little to no “clean” parts where the guitar slows down and lyrics are spoken in an eerie way, which is good in my eyes considering I didn’t care for that in the other albums, even though it did add some atmosphere. The lead guitars were sometimes a fast-paced black metal riff and other times a slower, heavier death metal riff. The bass was barely noticeable and the drums were usually blast beats but not to the degree that they overpowered the music, just went along with its fast paced guitars and vocals.

It wasn’t extremely boring though. It was definitely and interesting listen but I don’t think I’ll find myself listening to it again. If you’ve liked Goatwhore’s work up to this point, you’ll probably enjoy it, but otherwise you’ll probably find it to be mediocre.

A shit-ton of fun, yet slightly redundant - 75%

BastardHead, March 23rd, 2008

Back when I was new to music that wasn't written by Metallica, Pantera, Guns n' Roses, or Megadeth, I always referred to Goatwhore as the epitome of one of the worst things you could ever name your band. Several years and several death metal bands later, I've decided that Goatwhore is awesome, regardless of whatever their name is. Let's face it, the one thing in metal that matters is the music and attitude; image means naught when compared to the riffs.

And on that note, Goatwhore is a top notch band. This site lists them as black/death metal, and I can live with that. I'm not really super educated on the subject of black metal, but the frequent blasts and raspy vocals are enough to draw the parallel for me. Thankfully, they take these black metal elements, and mend them flawlessly with death metal riffs and production. The songs seamlessly intertwine the tremolo riffs of black metal with the crushing riffs of death metal, and even some almost traditional / half-thrash riffs here and there (Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult). And from what I can gather, despite the goofy name, they are 100% serious and ready to stomp your skull if you so much as look at them wrong. There are apparently two vocalists... I say apparently because once again, the site says so. There only seems to be one voice, but maybe it's like Dying Fetus where the two vocalists sound exactly the same. To me, that defeats the purpose of having two vocalists, at least make 'em sound different (as much as most people hate both bands, SikTh and 3 Inches of Blood do this nicely). This isn't a detractor though, I'm actually apathetic towards the number of vocalists on an album (unless it's for Ayreon or Avantasia or something).

The downside here, is that the album loses it's punch by the end. The songs all start to meld to together due to a lack of variation. After a while, the monotone vocals and blast beats start to become similar and in turn cause the songs to lose their luster after about the fifth or sixth song, which is bad considering there is only 10/11 songs (it really depends on if you call Of Ashen Slumber a full song or not). It's not quite an Achilles heel so to speak, more like and Achilles leg. It's not a small weakness that takes down an otherwise flawless figure, it's a rather large weakness that manages to do the same thing.

Unlike my other reviews, I can't quite gab off for a long time about this album, as it's pretty short and.... well, monotonous. Once you've listened to the first four or five tracks, you've pretty much got the gist of the record. It's like you've got a huge row of pumpkins, and you're blowing each one up with your brand new bazooka. Damn is it fun the first few times, but after a while you start to realize that the pumpkin isn't going to blow up any different the twentieth time, so you get bored and find something else to blow up. If Goatwhore took some time to refine their sound and try to channel a tidbit more creativity into their work, I would hang them in the hallowed halls of great death metal. I've got a spot saved for them right between Deicide and Nile, they just need to go that extra mile.

Fucking vicious. - 80%

woeoftyrants, April 15th, 2007

Goatwhore gained some well-deserved recognition in 2003 with their breakthrough sophomore album, A Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun. Not only did it prove to people that indeed the US is perfectly capable of making fierce black metal that transcends the bedroom and basement projects, but showed the band's undaunted allegiance to their NOLA roots. There haven't been many bands combine black metal with sludge, let alone do it successfully. A Haunting Curse shows a more focused and vicious Goatwhore, upping the ante on every aspect of their sound.

A Haunting Curse is noticeably more aggressive and heavier than its predecessor. While previous works had more of subdued but haunting and atmospheric edge, there are no frills with A Haunting Curse. Dissonant tremolo riffs make their appearance more than you would expect here, the tempos in the band's compositions are much faster, and the merciless methods of songwriting bring everything to life on this release. Generally speaking, this album is on the more ugly, anti-melodic end of the spectrum; something which I'm perfectly happy with. Most of the songs never touch the five-minute mark, so it's a totally distilled and pure attack without remorse. Really, I can only think of one way to describe it; the last album was more ominus but vague in its approach. This album is a totally seperate extreme, however. Intense moments of evil, charging riffs are interplayed with slug-paced, menacing doom riffs, such as the excellent "In the Narrow Confines of Defilement." There is also a healthy degree of technicality here in the drum department, but plenty of room is left for the primitive, old-school charm of "Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult." Some listeners will be surprised at the sheer ferocity in the songs, especially rippers like "Silence Marked by the Breaking of Bone." Songs such as these show the high degree of musicality and skill in the band that hasn't been as clear before, and this helps out the album as a whole.

Sammy Duet really comes into his own as a composer on this release. Regardless of the fact that the whole album is a sensual assault, there's a great deal of variety in the riffs. There are plenty of power-chord driven passages that will get heads banging on the few opening songs, as well as the hazy, high-speed tremolo frenzies that are essential to this genre. Beyond that, there are some great palm-muted thrash riffs, tricky transitions, and eerie, massive sludge sections that sound like Celtic Frost on acid. His twisting but ambitious song structures help to ensure a mindfuck of a listening session, while never going into the ever-familiar realm of rehashing ideas or becoming boring.

As a vocalist, Ben has stepped his game up a lot. He still offers up the throaty, raw screams that he's famed for; but this time around, he possesses a considerable amount of polish and consistency in his voice. Things were a bit sketchy on the band's last album, but you know who's boss this time around. The vocal arrangements are an independent entity of the music, without straying too far from where they need to be. Also, the cryptic, occult-laden lyrics have only delved deeper into the depths of darkness, and fortunately for us, Ben makes it easy to understand and follow the lyrics. Ben occasionally layers his vocals with Sam and the bassist for a hellish, intimidating wall of noise on the title track.

Zack's entrance as drummer is a grand one. All of his work is more death-metal oriented, and his double bass chops are incredible. He makes a wise use of blastbeats, which helps out the more chaotic essence of the music in a massive way. There are some moments where it seems to be overkill, but most material of this sort is an acquired taste.I highly welcome Zack to the fold of Goatwhore, because he bares his fangs with no remorse, and proves that he can take the band's sound to a new extreme.

The production A Haunting Curse is fucking incredible. Unlike some of the obscure mud of the previous album, the guitars are clear, but maintain a general ambient thickness. The drums are a hell of a production job on their own; the bass drum punches like a brick, the snare cuts with some healthy overtones, and each cymbal hit is articulate and crisp. As everything comes together, it doesn't take away the balls from the music, and only makes the listen that much more vicious.

But, there's one problem; like many of the furious, rampaging albums in this genre, it's a definite acquired taste to handle this kind of brutality in one listening. The length of the album does help things out, but for first-time listeners, things will start to blur by about the sixth track.

Favorite tracks: All tracks 1-5, "Silence Marked by the Breaking of Bone."