Who can forget Goatwhore? From Sammy Duet‘s quip on the Relapse Records message board so long ago “I’m going to start a band and call it Goatwhore” to today’s mayhemic brutal machine, Louisiana’s purveyors of musical insanity have bluntly carved a well-deserved niche for themselves within extreme metal’s upper echelon. The band’s latest offering, Constricting Rage of the Merciless, is ten songs of what we’ve come to know and love from the band: tunes that ethereally shift between black metal madness, death metal brutality, and thrash metal punishment, eschewing the light and goodness.
Right from the start, the album is a skull cracker. Nicely produced, well mixed and mastered, uncontent to sit by the sidelines, this disc demands in-your-face presence. Loud, crisp, thick, and aurally assaulting, the mostly radio-friendly length tunes are, for the most part, pure goatwhoring bliss. Similar to their previous works, the disc is well-performed and clear: a nice mix of the 3 genres thrash, death, and black metal. The low growl is mixed with the higher abrasive range, presenting a ‘dual vocal’ approach. With heavy emphasis on tight riffs and neck-snapping tempo changes, the band remind listeners of bands ranging from Entombed to old Hellhammer or Celtic Frost, but with a lot more volume, complexity, and note density.
The dual-guitar attack from Ben Falgoust and Duet continues to slay, with a thick, aggressive, wall-of-sound distortion to this day. James Harvey‘s bass lines thicken an already swampy bayou death metal tone, and Zack Simmons‘s endless percussion fills and flurries keep the band on top as masters of ‘tempo and riff’ combinations. Uncomplicated and fairly accessible, the disc channels “the best of” some of metal’s finest moments: Celtic Frost’s emphatic vocal “oogh!” through Entombed’s pioneering Left Hand Path esque death attack. Song motives are polished, and don’t sound illogical, like they’re collections of riffs.
What about the songs? “Poisonous Existence in Reawakening” is well ahead of anything “mainstream”. Most would have a very hard time keeping up with the ferocity. “Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh”, the longest tune on the disc, seems tailor-made for fans of sludgy, slower-tempo “doom infused” extreme metal. “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed” could be “Piranha”, cleverly disguised. It’s close enough to be a musical quotation from Exodus, a hidden gem for fans of those Bay Area pioneers. And like “Piranha”, this is very much a neck-snapper.
What does Goatwhore offer? They excel at the death-thrash niche – the amalgamation of death metal’s brutality with thrash’s rhythmic delivery and emphasis on clarity. They effortlessly channel everything from hyperspeed melodic black metal (reminiscent of underground guys like Noctuary), to thrash metal’s crunch, to death metal’s ‘kill first, ask questions later’ ethos. Prepare for a listening rollercoaster. Polished, deliberate bayou evil permeates each well-crafted tune. Nicely balanced, very well produced, Constricting Rage of the Merciless easily holds it’s own in Goatwhore’s catalog, and forges new ground. This isn’t a speed contest – songs focus on content and delivery. It’s extreme metal for a discerning public. Well worth the time and money, pick this up at once.
Poisonous Existence in Reawakening
Baring Teeth For Revolt
Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity
Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh
Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed
Externalize the Hidden Savagery
Ben Falgoust – Vocals
Sammy Duet – Guitars and Vocals
Zack Simmons – Drums
James Harvey – Bass