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Goatwhore's first album was fantastic, and this too is fantastic, though of a somewhat different sound. While the general elements are still in place from 'The Eclipse Of Ages Into Black', Goatwhore seems to have taken it up a notch on this release with a greater level of technicality and brutality in certain areas, with the overall package feeling more extreme than the previous album. Fortunately, nothing has been sacrificed in the departments of atmosphere or songwriting, so I'm happy to say that this is just as good as the band's debut.
The overall tempo of this release seems higher; there's plenty of blasting and uptempo thrashing to go around. Fortunately the midpaced sections Goatwhore is well known for remain intact, as do the riffing sensibilities of the band. As catchy, dark, and atmospheric as ever, they vary between death metal tremolo, rhythmic Celtic Frost chugs, and strangely uplifting, melodic strumming in that 'Satan's finally marching on heaven' style we know and love. The production has become less sludgy and more immediate, and the somewhat overly sharp drums have been dealt with by sharpening up the guitar tone. Vocals are still a snarling black metal rasp, but now a greater presence of declarative, half-spoken clean vocals is employed, actually working extremely well towards the epic structuring of the release.
Much like Goatwhore's first album, the names of the game are songwriting and consistency. Goatwhore is not a band afraid to experiment with nontraditional elements when necessary, but they never fall into the trap that is gimmick and novelty. Every track on this album has its place, from the simplest Hellhammer and Darkthrone worship to the most complex and multifaceted progressive-leaning composition. It's unapologetically metal without upholding any stereotypes about how the genre should be, and can be listened to as drinking music just as much as a scholarly and intelligent composition.
I think that's what makes Goatwhore so great: it's entirely natural music, as though the members had never heard of metal and its rules and simply came up with this material on their own. There's no pandering to any audiences. They're a band that is unafraid to be what they are, but don't see that independence as a sign to try any less. Every moment of this album has clearly been carefully composed for maximum effectiveness in communicating pure darkness and misanthropy, and each moment succeeds both on its own terms and in the scope of the album itself. Goatwhore understands that there is a place in metal that isn't a middle ground, isn't a compromise, but is an intelligent yet grounded place to be. It's not beer'n'tits Pantera and Cannibal Corpse worship, it's not overtly pretentious Dream Theater fellatio. It is metal, and it's one of the best examples of what the genre can be when the 'scene' is taken out of the equation.
A great album from a great band. Buy it.
The very idea of a black metal/sludge mix gets me excited. The awesome guitar tone of sludge, mixed with the nightmarish atmosphere and fast tempos of black metal? Sign me up! It's for these reasons that I was excited to listen to Funeral Dirge for The Rotting Sun. Sadly, what I heard when I finally did listen to it was a mediocre mix of black metal, death metal, with just a smidgen of sludge.
First, the positives. The production, while unsuited for a pure black metal release, works perfectly for the menagerie of genres on display here. The guitars are thick and meaty, the drums clear and crisp, the bass virtually nonexistent (as is the norm for these genres), and the vocals loud but not overpowering. It's definitely more sludge than black/death metal sounding, but it works great here.
As for other positives, well, they are pretty few and far between. The actual opener (after a typically useless instrumental opener), "Vengeance of Demonic Fury" is everything I hoped this album would be: Vicious, sludgy, with good riffs and some nice tempo changes, and some good vocals. A definite highlight. Sadly, it's the lone song I enjoy listening to all the way through.
The rest of the songs here are pretty much substandard blackened death metal, with some half-assed slow, sludgy bits thrown in, usually completely disrupting the flow of the song in progress. This is most obvious on "Chanting Bells of Funeral Anguish", which is almost a truly awesome fast, thrashing song, but is basically ruined thanks to a pointless slow middle, featuring some abysmal clean vocals. These clean vocal pop up quite a bit, and are awful, attempting to sound...I dunno, heartbroken? Lost? I dunno, but what I do know is that they sound terrible and out of place. The harsh vocals alternate between a decent rasp and a super generic death growl. The guitars are more death than black, with a few half-hearted tremolo picked riffs thrown in here and there. The lyrics are typical black metal, not really standing out in anyway. That's a real problem with the album - as a whole, it just feels faceless and generic.
I really, really, wanted to like this album. Sadly, terrible clean vocals, uninspired guitar work, bad song construction, and a heavy focus on generic death metal basically ruin what could've been a great black metal album. There is definitely some bright spots among the wreckage here, but it's not worth buying the album just to find them.
goatwhore is truly a band to be reckoned with. their very unique mix of death, black, and sludge makes for a good listen. this album starts off with a somewhat hackneyed "scary noises from hell" intro, but it's hardly a minute long, so it doesn't take away from the album. songs like "blood guilt eucharist," "sky inferno," "a closure in infinity" and "baptized in a storm of swords" stick out as the best. on blood guilt, you hear falgoust's clean vocals, which really add to the atmosphere and help define goatwhore's sound. the band would really not have the same effect without them. also interesting is their style of drumming, which is far from the typical metal drumming, consisting of constant double kick/blast beats. instead of that, they choose to mostly keep the time (what an idea!) instead of overwhelming the rest of the band.
"the path i walk is paved with the ashes of corpses, beneath my feet are the souls of thousands"
how, as a metal fan, can you not enjoy such evil lyrics? that's one of the most notable things about the song "sky inferno," its lyrics. they are very dark, and quite blasphemous at times. goatwhore really slows it down with the guitar on this track as well. they're not limited to just being fast and heavy the entire time, and instead choose to go for a more atmospheric sound at times. their guitarist sammy duet excels at this. he's got some great riffs, most of which aren't especially fast or thrashy. still, it all works.
one of goatwhore's strengths is that if you heard just the guitar, drums, or vocals, you may think it's not that great. but as a whole, it's great. they're all complimenting each other and working toward the big picture in a sense, as opposed to all trying to show off at once. this is one reason why goatwhore's vocals are what i enjoy the most about them. with no other metal band do i really prefer the sections of the songs with vocals to the instrumental parts. the album's production helps this, as everything sounds as it should and no one thing overpowers anything else.
"a storm of swords to end my life"
and one more thing-how can you resist a band with such evil sounding song names as "baptized in a storm of swords"? goatwhore does one thing most black metal bands can't, and that's be blasphemous and grim without being ridiculous. instead of just screaming "SATAN!!!" like some tr00 norwegian bands, they bring some intelligence to it. it helps set them apart and make them a band you should definitely listen to.
KVLT LOVISIANA BLAKK METAL? Well maybe not, but Goatwhore's unique brand of sludgy, thrashy, blasphemous black/death metal annihilates most of the overpopulated, overrated European scene. If you aren't familiar with Goatwhore and their previous release, The Eclipse of Ages Into Black, you should be. At first it seemed this project was simply a side project of Ben Falgoust of Soilent Green fame and Sammy Duet of Acid Bath and Crowbar. However, after a relentless touring schedule, an ever-increasing fan base, and a retarded amount of talent it was soon clear that Goatwhore wasn't just a one-time exercise in sacrilege. Three years after their impressive debut, Goatwhore has returned with twelve more odious anthems that far surpass their previous output.
What stands out the most on this record is the vocal attack of Ben Falgoust. Already known for his incredible diversity with Soilent Green, Falgoust bellows some unholy lyrics with great form and power. He contrasts these with select clean vocals, and although not usually my thing, this clean style effectively creates some spooky atmospheres, despite its initial hokeyness.
I don't have any criticisms of this record, but at the same time I can't give it a perfect score, because even though I really really dig it, it's not something that blows me away. I know I will be going back to this album many times throughout the year, but I don't think it will make any top ten lists. Hopefully we get to see a third release from these up and comers and if we do, I suspect it may surprise us all.
Vomited forth from the stanky bogs of Louisiana, Goatwhore play black metal unlike any group I've heard - sure, the influence of Celtic Frost, Venom, and Bathory are all there, but there is something distinctly unique about their sound. I can't quite put my finger on what it is exactly, but I like it. Maybe it's Ben Falgoust's awesome vocal delivery, or perhaps it's the dirty guitar riffs, or maybe it's just the uncouth southern Louisiana flavor that gives this band its distinct flavor. Whatever the case, this is some mighty fine Black Bayou Metal.
Originally Published @ www.metaljudgment.com (c) 2004