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The all-mighty Goatwhore, the four-piece from Satan's small intestine, have announced their latest record Blood For the Masters for a 2012 release. I figured it's a damn good time to brush up on one of my favourite black metal bands, and review their 2010 release Carving Out the Eyes of God.
Album opener "Apocalyptic Havoc" shreds your ears as soon as you toss the record on, and vocalists Sammy Duet and Louis Falgoust II begin their blasphemous screaming. The opening track does two important things: it establishes the overall sound of the album - which all opening tracks should do - and it brings us the earth-shattering guitar sound that you will come to cherish as one of the best guitar sounds Goatwhore has ever crafted. It succeeds in both shredding powerfully, soloing gracefully, and chanting slowly. This is but one of two hallmarks of Goatwhore's sound, and one of the most integral pieces to their blackened puzzle. The guitar is incredibly memorable, in short, and serves as a strong, solid framework and song structure for all of the tracks on the album. In particular, the second track "The All Destroying" and the title track that follows it stand out for containing enjoyable solos and powerful main riffs. These are just a few of the endless examples I could give to represent just how refined the lead and rhythm guitars are on Carving Out the Eyes of God.
I did mention a second hallmark for Goatwhore's sound, and that hallmark is the vocal relationship between Sammy and Falgoust. This defining characteristic is one of the most seamless trade-offs with regards to vocals because it's completely believable for the band to be able to play their songs live without sacrificing vocal power, but they don't have weak vocals on the album. Other bands with multiple vocalists have succeeded in similar ways -- Behemoth being a prime example, where the lead vocalist does most of the studio vocals and the supporting vocalists come in during live shows. This kind of relationship is integral for an enjoyable record, and Goatwhore has obviously worked hard to keep this vocal style at its peak. Another reason their dual-vocalist approach is so effective is that the two vocalists are able to sound similar, but different. You won't notice the major differences until you get used to the album, but it's quite impressive when you do. A great example of this characteristic coming into play is the sixth track, "In Legions, I am Wars of Wrath", where the vocalists occasionally scream out their blasphemies in unison, and other times perform a one-two punch with their vocals. This is also the only track with clean vocals, although they aren't actually singing. It's closer to chanting.
If there's one thing Goatwhore could improve upon, it's their drums. The drumming is proficient, sure, but it seems like it's almost apathetic. The drum tracks appear follow the lead of the guitar- and bass-lines, as opposed to forming the basis of the song structure. While this might be a stylistic choice for the band, it seems to weaken the strength of the drums overall. The seventh track, "Reckoning of the Soul Made Godless", has a nice drum track that seems to stray away from the beaten path made by the guitars. Even so, it's just not as strong as it could be. The drums need more of an oomph, and they need more variety to really capture my attention. It might seem like a trivial complaint when you consider the genre of black metal and look at the drum tracks of similar bands, but if Goatwhore wants to truly stand apart like I know they're able to, they should have a focus on drums just as much as they do vocals and guitars. Carving Out the Eyes of God is an amazing record, and the final track "To Mourn and Forever Wander Through Forgotten Doorways" wraps things up incredibly well with a very emotive and atmospheric touch. Falgoust's rasps are fantastic. Duet's bellows are invigorating. The instrumentation is nearly spot-on. Blood For the Masters had better make me love this band even more. Enjoy the album.
1. "Apocalyptic Havoc"
3. "Carving Out the Eyes of God"
6. "In Legions, I am Wars of Wrath"
7. "Reckoning of the Soul Made Godless"
10. "To Mourn and Forever Wander Through Forgotten Doorways"