NOLA is a place of special music for me, so many of my favourite metal bands come from that area of the World that the only place I can almost put on a level of talent as Birmingham (note that I did say almost!) Recently one of the more intense of my favourite NOLA bands had a release, the one and only Goatwhore.
The latest release ‘Vengeful Ascension’ is their seventh offering, the perfect blend of style that has been fine tuned over releases. Blackened death, punk infused, thrashy metal, it is a sound unlike any other in my ears, and one they proudly carry the flag of in the live shows.
Starting out with an instant barrage, ‘Forsaken’ lets you know exactly everything they are about, intensity, destructive, driven, and consistently in your face. ’Under the Flesh, Into the Soul’ takes a stronger thrash/punk theme on, the speed and sound pinning you back in the chair with the power of a hurricane, as the album continues into the title track, you get to a pace more akin to the Southern Sludge sound that NOLA bands are known for, frontman Ben Falgoust sounding as sinister and dark as ever before, with guitarist Sammy Duet creating some great dynamics riff wise, only to be topped by the lead work in the solo. ‘Chaos Arcane’ brings the album back up briefly in pace, with a great showcase of the skills drummer Zakk Simmons, as is ‘Drowned in Grim Rebirth’. Bassist James Harvey has now been part of the bands unit for 3 releases including this one, and despite the abilities and talents of the man, the bass at times does feel a little drowned out and at the back of the wall through the intensity of everything else, I personally would like that have heard it a little more in the mix. The sound of the band can seem very one dimensional to those that aren’t fans of the band already too, possibly making it something that those unfamiliar to the scene could struggle to get into, but that really is as far as I can go when it comes to trying to find any sour points on the album.
Tracks like ‘Abandon Indoctrination’ sit nowhere near the fence, let alone on the fence with the style they take on, a very black metal track, while ‘Mankind Will Have No Mercy’ itself is very thrashy. The second half of the album having more than it’s share of tracks that can grab your attention and reel you in, ‘Decayed Omen Reborn’ hits the mark when it comes back to the slower, sludge approach, sounding like a beast hidden in the depths of the darkest, dirtiest swamp waters. Going out all guns blazing is ‘Those who denied Gods Will’, as intense as the album started, it is all unmistakably Goatwhore.
As mentioned earlier, the album can seem one dimensional, the wall of noise produced hits hard like being constantly punched in the face with smelling salts. Goatwhore make no compromises, they make no apologies, and they know exactly what they are setting out to achieve, and I must confess, I absolutely love that about them.