Album review: Goatwhore convince with a strong release
Ever since their debut album “The Eclipse of Ages into Black” in 2000 the 4-piece from New Orleans has raised quite controversial opinions. It seems that either critics love the band or they deny the band any originality and musical quality. Now Goatwhore hit the metal world with their new album “Constricting Rage of the Merciless”. And right from the start they hit it. The album starts with two absolute skull crushers named “Poisonous Existence in Reawakening” and “Unraveling Paradise”. Both songs show the trademarks of Goatwhore’s version of extreme metal – vocals between death metal growling and higher pitched black metal screeching, double bass drum attacks and razor-sharp riffing.
These two songs set the tone for the rest of the album without being repeated over and over. Goatwhore do not fall into the trap of so many extreme metal bands these days. Their songs are not only the simple attempt to be the hardest, heaviest, fastest or whatever superlative you prefer. Instead Goatwhore show that they can actually write good songs. “Constricting Rage of the Merciless” leaves a lasting impression after only one run. The ten songs have a good variety and show different influences. Goatwhore combines black metal, death metal and thrash metal styles easily in one song. This might not be something the world hasn’t heard before but let’s be fair: after 30 years of extreme metal there is hardly anything we haven’t had in one way or another. What distinguishes Goatwhore from the grey mass is that their songs are recognisable and in a way quite catchy.
Goatwhore also give evidence to the fact that they are more than capable of varying speed, brutality and intensity. So is “Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh” a doom hammer that all of a sudden goes from 0 to 100 in the second half of the track. Other songs that prove Goatwhore’s quite exquisite songwriting skills are “Baring Teeth for Revolt”, that comes with a riff that reminds you of the early Iron Maiden, and “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed” with its many galloping riffs. Last but not least there are a couple of songs that seem to celebrate the early Bathory.” Reanimated Sacrifice” can only be read as an homage to Bathory’s ultra-classic “Sacrifice”. “FBS”, my favourite track of the album, is what Bathory would probably sound like in 2014.
The conclusion: Goatwhore haven’t re-invented extreme metal with “Constricting Rage of the Merciless”. Their fans will love the album and Goatwhore will add more metalheads to their fan base with it. Critics of the band will say the same again. What stands out for me is the fact that this album is fun. It is very entertaining. When it’s finished it make you wanna hit the repeat button over and over. This is how good extreme metal should be: straight forward and not academic, brutal but with variety and not overproduced with a sound that has that little bit of that garage feeling left. Great album, well done guys.
8.5 out of 10
By Marc Walker