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Persistence Finally Pays Off - 90%

Khull, July 13th, 2009

Perhaps not the best example of quality USBM, Goatwhore nevertheless has yet to release a truly bad album. All three of their previous releases have more-or-less the same feel to them; traditional black metal structure and style, but with death metal tuned guitars and vocals hovering somewhere in between the two genres. Consistency is a something of a trademark of theirs, and their 2009 offering of Carving Out the Eyes of God, aside from being a title that screams badass, is a testament to the idea that one can make even the most boring of ideas work out really well.

The problem with Goatwhore's backlog is that it suffered from severe onsets of boredom. It isn't that these folks aren't competent musicians – far from it – it's that they were unable to compose their way out of a paper bag. Too many of their songs clung to a monotonous style of their respected album, and the result was 11 – 15 songs that sounded the same strung together into an album that ultimately went nowhere, making for a very tedious 45 minutes.

Carving Out the Eyes of God sees those issues remedied almost entirely. Indeed, this is the first Goatwhore album I can listen to cover to cover and not sense boredom creep up my spine halfway through. That alone makes it worthwhile, for now the adept playing I always knew these guys had can really show. Quite simply, all but the tracks mentioned below have the killer riffs, dynamic structure, and engaging drumming you'd expect from quality death/thrash hybrid bands. No one song illustrates this better than This Passing Into The Power Of Demons. Clearly ringing over the now-good music are Ben's vocals; the one aspect of Goatwhore that escaped the past drudgery. His style of harsh, menacing shouting has steadily improved over the years, and this album isn't an exception, as best seen on the closing track To Mourn And Forever Wander Through Forgotten Doorways.

This album isn't devoid of low points; however, tracks such as The All Destroying and Shadow Of A Rising Knife retain the feeling of dullness that plagued the earlier albums, and the fact that they arrive early and so close together doesn't help matters either. Still, when imbued with the improvements found on the rest of the album, they pull out better than the worsts of others. Another point of contest is the guitar tone. When playing a style of metal that hovers between black and death, there are some aspect of each chosen, but for the life of me I don't see why the band settles on a tone that has me expecting chug-style riffs to break out at any second. A petty gripe perhaps, but it shows on the aforementioned two tracks, and it's annoying.

While I'm happy Goatwhore finally nailed an album, it still took them almost 10 years to finally do it. The recommendation goes to a broad spectrum of people, but most notably those who've failed to get into Goatwhore's music for whatever reason. If you're in the market for a good slab of black / death metal, well you can't really go wrong with Carving Out the Eyes of God. For the couple inevitable faults it has, I believe it's time Goatwhore receives an exceptional score. I just hope they don't fuck it up when / if they release a new album. Good as this may be, it would be a rather poor high point.