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Goatwhore - Constricting Rage Of The Merciless
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Image: Goatwhore, pitriff, review, death metalGoatwhore


Here's one for the stout of heart and strong of neck: New Orleans's Goatwhore have just barfed up their sixth album, and if you liked the last few releases, Constricting Rage of the Merciless is sure to appease your charred heart. If you haven't been following along, Goatwhore is sort of a supergroup, if having members of Soilent Green and Acid Bath in the ranks qualifies for that designation—and maybe it doesn't, given the incestuous nature of that city's metal scene. They started out playing pure black metal in the Norwegian style, complete with cumbersome, English-as-a-second-language song titles, but over the ensuing fifteen years, their sound has evolved to include healthy doses of thrash and death metal, and even an almost rock 'n' roll swagger here and there. As a result, when you see news items about them on websites like Blabbermouth, they tend to have laughably long descriptors. Stuff like, "New Orleans hardcore blackened-thrash death 'n' roll sludgemeisters."

So anyway, they have a new album. Like its predecessors, 2009's Carving Out The Eyes Of God and 2012's Blood For The Master, the new release combines elements of many different extreme-metal subgenres into a (WARNING—gratuitous Looziana reference coming) gumbo that is all their own. Songs are short and to the point, often jumping right in with furious blastbeats as if the band had been playing for a couple minutes before somebody thought to hit "record." There isn't always a discernible verse-chorus pattern, but somewhere along the way, the songs usually downshift (somewhat) into a more headbangable groove that allows a riff or vocal pattern to stand out. On that note, Zack Simmons's drumming is really impressive. Ben Falgoust's vocals generally stay in a medium-pitch shout, occasionally dipping an octave for a deep, death-metal curveball (sinker?). If you're a certain kind of twisted, it's fun music while it's playing, but for the most part, damn hard to remember when it's over.

There are exceptions on every Goatwhore album, though. On Constricting Rage Of The Merciless, they come in the form of the catchy, thrashy first single "Baring Teeth Of Revolt," and the similar but even more clumsily-titled "Nocturnal Conjuration Of The Accursed." These songs, sandwiched amid all the blastbeating frenzy of other tracks, jump out with a gust of fresh air, real hooks and something for your ears to grab onto. The real surprise, however, is a happy little ditty called "Cold Earth Consumed In Dying Flesh." The title sounds sorta Crowbar-esque, and sure enough, it's a plodding, sludgy monolith that seems to move at an impossibly slow pace compared to the other nine songs. Odd how that tune-low-play-slow aesthetic is so common in the downers-crazed New Orleans metal swamp, yet Goatwhore only rarely explore it, and never to this degree.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the band's black-metal origins, the lyrics of Falgoust and guitar Sammy Duet are steeped in over-the-top, Venomous blasphemy (capital V on purpose). "FBS," on this album, even stands for "Fucked By Satan," with lyrics that might have been shocking in decades past, or if easily shockable people would ever hear them. But, it's 2014 and this has all been said before, and Goatwhore are an underground band anyway, and will likely stay below the radar of all but the most avid metalheads.

Pitriff Rating: 77/100 – Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Goatwhore's music, particularly the last few releases. Constricting Rage Of The Merciless delivers everything a fan of the band would want. But I'm not going to lie to you and try to sell it to you as the soundtrack to your backyard barbecues or beach volleyball games. And, except for the three named above, the songs tend to run together without leaving a lasting impression, unless you eat and breathe this stuff 24/7.

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