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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.