Goatwhore is currently one of my favorite bands. I got into the band fairly recently though. Prior to that, the band's name was a source of joking between my friend and I. We frequently discussed the most bizarre, ridiculous band name, and Goatwhore was frequently the winner. It wasn't until I heard the band on Headbanger's Ball and Music Choice that I discovered what I had been missing. I had never actually heard the band until that point, and boy was I missing out on something. Goatwhore seemlessly blends influences from almost all of the major styles of metal without making it sound like a fusion band. It's easy to be able to say that this band clearly listens to metal. Grind, death, doom, black, and thrash metal are all present here.
Goatwhore started in Louisiana in the mid to late 90's. The band was formed by members of Acid Bath, Crowbar, and other New Orleans-area bands. In 1998 Ben Falgoust of Soilent Green took over on lead vocals and the band was fully formed. At that point, they started recording and laying down a swath of destruction over the countryside. Sammy Duet and Ben Falgoust remain the primary members of the band. Goatwhore is easily one of the U.S.'s most explosive metal bands.
Since I now own all of their recordings, I will look at their full discography here.
SERENADES TO THE TIDES OF BLOODGoatwhore's demo is actually a well-written, professional sounding recording. A little unusual for a demo, but not as much when band member histories are taken into account. For the most part, the band's sound remains unchanged from the sound on the demo. The combination of death, doom, thrash, and black metal is already present. Even the band's indescribable swagger is present on this demo. Vocally, the signature rasping growls are present, and there are some clean almost-crooning vocals arising every once in awhile. The vocal interplay gives the music a slightly epic and creepy vibe. This demo could have easily become the band's first full length album: there are enough songs present. In fact, many of the songs were re-worked into final form for inclusion on the debut full length. Even the production sounds more like a full length than demo with only a couple of minor changes needed: the drums are a bit too high in the mix, and the guitars are not as beefy as they should be. All in all, this is a very professional sounding demo and a sign of great things to come from the band.
THE ECLIPSE OF AGES INTO BLACK
Goatwhore's debut full length album built on what the band started in its demo. The sound has been filled out a little more, giving the music a heavier more powerful feel to it. Many of the songs off of the demo have been re-recorded for this album, only two of the demo tracks did not make the final cut for the album. The band on this album is still a little on the doomy side of things; the black, thrash, and death influences have not come to totally dominate the band's sound. Furthermore, the two-pronged vocal styles present on the demo continued on this album. Falgoust still reaches back for his maniacal screams while Sammy Duet fills in the occasional clean vocal part. The drumming on this album has been tightened up considerably, at this point, the band has no musical weaknesses. The band, already on its debut, has become fully formed. Things would just get darker and more violent from this point forward.
GOATWHORE/EPOCH OF UNLIGHT SPLITGoatwhore's side of this split (which was reviewed in full earlier on the blog) is one song: a cover of the Hellhammer/Celtic Frost classic "Into the Crypts of Rays". The band does a fine job with this cover, mosty because it is obvious that Goatwhore's influences include Hellhammer/Celtic Frost among other bands. They have the trademarked guitar tone down well and Ben Falgoust even manages to approximate Tom G. Warrior's famous grunting style. This song did appear on the Japanese version of the band's Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun album, making seeking out the split a little unnecessary, but it is a good version of a metal classic.
FUNERAL DIRGE FOR THE ROTTING SUN
When this album kicks off, the listener immediately understands that the band, which had no weaknesses on the last album at all, somehow managed to improve. If possible, this album is even more aggressive, angry, and violent than the last full length. Falgoust's vocals are deeper and more maniacal than ever. The bottom end is heavier, and the riffs are more distorted and groove-laden than before. Gone, for the most part, are the clean vocals and in their place are deeper guttural croaks from Sammy Duet. The crooning does show up once in a great while, but the extreme vocals have basically taken over. The band did not record as many songs as on their previous album, but the songs remained about the same length, which makes this album shorter but it still packs a wallop.
A HAUNTING CURSE
This album was the first that Goatwhore recorded on a larger label, Metal Blade. As such, the band had started to get a little more mainstream exposure. This is also the band's strongest album to date. The clean vocals and most of the softer, more melodic parts of the music have been purged from the band's sound. At this point, the band's sound has evolved into extreme riffs and pounding drums. There is no respite from this onslaught, the band continues to pound away no matter what. Musically, the band's genre is closer related to blackened death than any of the other metal genres previously present. Falgoust has taken over more of the vocal duties, leaving Duet to chime in less often than he even previously did. At this time, the band has seemingly found its own unique voice. The songs are a little longer and the production a little more crisp making it easier to hear what is happening in the music. This was Goatwhore's breakthrough album, the first one I had heard, and the one that convinced me to seek out more of their material. This is an extremely intense listen.
CARVING OUT THE EYES OF GOD
This is already one of the top albums to come out so far in 2009. Goatwhore followed up their last album with more ferociously intense, blistering Southern style blackened death. The only real changes here on this album are production changes. The instruments can all be heard a little bit better and the production is the clearest of any of the Goatwhore's albums. The songs are a little bit longer, but still certainly not long. The songwriting has improved somewhat, there are recognizable changes in the tempo of the songs a little more often, but this has done nothing to detract from their intensity. Goatwhore has raised itself to an elite level of American metal bands on this album. Let's just hope they can keep it going. Nothing in the band's history would seem to suggest that they could not.