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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.