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Black Metal With an American Twist - 87%

PKendall317, December 10th, 2011

Most metal heads probably think of Norwegian bands like Darkthrone, Immortal, 1349, and the infamous Mayhem and Burzum when they think of black metal. For the most part, black metal is a largely Scandinavian, particularly Norwegian genre of heavy metal that is dominated by bands from that region. The pure, concentrated Satanic darkness that is black metal has migrated to New Orleans and corrupted the band known as Goatwhore.

Goatwhore's debut album Eclipse of Ages Into Black is clearly black metal and clearly influenced by it's Norwegian counterparts. But Goatwhore has also added their own twists to the genre. It would probably be better to call Goatwhore a blackened death metal band, but there aren't very many noticeable death metal influences on this album. Also the production quality is very good, and the album has a very clear sound to it, unlike other black metal album's that I've heard. The guitar work and drumming are probably the most obvious influences of death metal on the album, which are mid to fast paced in their playing, and are somewhat heavier than typical black metal.

One thing I do like particularly about the guitar riffs that I think other black metal albums have a problem with, is that most of them are quite memorable. For example the two Setherial albums that I've heard essentially sound like the same guitar riffs over and over again. On Eclipse of Ages Into Black most of the songs have something about them that makes them stand out from one another. Also at certain times the guitars adopt a slow paced sound that sound that adds a dark, haunting melody to the music.

Vocally Goatwhore pretty much sticks to the traditional black metal shrieks. Falgoust's vocals have a raspier, more throaty sound to them than what you'd normally expect in black metal vocals. At times though Falgoust adopts a vocal style that's best described as mumbling. This is best heard at around 0:58 on the albums second track, "Lair of Nastrond." He also adopts a haunting vocal style that makes me think of a tormented soul that can't find it's way to the afterlife. An example of this can be heard on the track "As the Reflection Slowly Fades" at 1:45.

Thanks to this album Goatwhore has become one of my favorite bands to listen to, and I definately would recommend them to fans of the genre.

Actually really worthwhile - 86%

Noktorn, July 26th, 2008

Before stumbling upon a couple of their albums in a large used CD purchase, I mostly knew Goatwhore as 'that band that everyone has a shirt from'. I have no clue why, but apparently Goatwhore is the most popular band in the central Florida area if we're going by the level of t-shirt saturation. I never actually hear anyone TALK about the band, but they sure as hell sell a lot of shirts. But then I finally wound up with this and the following full-length, and I have to say the emperor actually has some clothes after all. It's nothing amazing, but it's certainly a cut above your average death/black stuff.

There's something that sets Goatwhore apart from other bands of the same general mold. It's hard to put my finger on what exactly it is. The band's music has a particularly depraved, sadistic aura about it, like the blasphemy and evil they talk about really is a way of life more than a gimmick. This is aided by the fact that the band does more than just mix black and death metal and expect that it's going to amaze everyone (see Belphegor). It's clearly music made by people who have their own influences to bring to the table instead of simply repeating BLACK DEATH METAL in frantic voices to each other while rehearsing. Those influences are subtle: a pinch of sludgy southern influence (fitting, given their location), a little bit of punk and oldschool hardcore, and a wide variety of styles as far as song structures and ideas go. The riffing, production, and other root elements are all solid, but it's really the way the band structures everything that makes this so good.

The stuff here almost hearkens back to an earlier time in metal where the 'rules' of genres weren't so concrete and harshly defined. The guys in Goatwhore are willing to throw in elements because they work with the songs, and they walk the tightrope between sticking to the genre too closely and incorporating outside influences for novelty value without ever falling. Does the song need a d-beat there? Sure, put it in! Does it need some clean vocals in this spot? Sure, and it doesn't matter that we don't use them anywhere else because it SOUNDS GOOD HERE. They don't stray too far, but they don't huddle at genre lines like scared children. It's a great quality that many more bands should aspire towards.

As for the music itself, it's pretty great. The production is very strong, with a warm ambiance yet surprising clarity- perhaps a bit too much in the drum department, which is extremely snappy and tight compared to the more buzzing guitar tone. The riffing on this album is both varied and memorable, with a very unique spin on traditional black metal tremolo riffing, and the vocals (very reminiscent of those used in Insidious Omen's work) are a spitting, venomous screech that fit the music extremely well. Some songs are less than two minutes long, and some are more than six. Why? Because the SONGS DEMANDED IT. Goatwhore's a band that doesn't overthink itself at all and the results show a confident, strong artistic endeavor.

Goatwhore's quite a quality band I learned, so maybe there's a reason why everyone has a shirt of theirs. By taking metal a step back they've really brought the genre two steps forward by being less self-conscious and composing songs in a purely musical fashion. This is a very good black/death album and I recommend it to most who enjoy modern extreme metal; I can't really find much at all wrong with it.

Layer Upon Layer Of Blissful Lies - 75%

GoatSodomyGasMask, January 2nd, 2008

Having heard loads about Goatwhore but never having actually listened to them I decided to get this release. I thought it was interesting since it had a much longer track list than usually expected from a black metal release and had pretty nice album artwork.

This release doesn’t contain any extremely intricate complex black metal melodies, or deep metaphysical philosophical lyrics or shrieked grim black metal vocals. It is straight-up black/death metal with fast guitars, rasped vocals and an overall chunky atmosphere. The vocals are your standard generic rasp but every now and then the guitar slows down and dual clean-rasped vocals can be heard. This is probably my favorite thing about the album.

The drums plod along and the bass is barely heard (if ever) in the mix. Each song has its own definitive riff which contains a surprising amount of groove. Sometimes the songs slow down enough to make you think you’re listening to Candlemass or some other doom metal band. The album sounds pretty much the same throughout and doesn’t have many standout moments (aside from the occasional slowed down dual vocal attack) but apart from that it is quickly forgotten.

Get this album if you want some mid-paced, sludgy black/death metal but if you’re looking for something more complex or memorable, steer away.