I recently saw an old quote from Goatwhore vocalist Ben Falgoust talking about the band being called blackened death metal: “I think sometimes we get slighted for stuff. Whatever terms people decide to lock us into— black metal, death metal, black death metal, everyone’s gotta have some kind of little blanket. It’s almost like a social standing. To me, it’s all just straight heavy metal.” I wholeheartedly agree with Falgoust, especially on the band’s latest record, Constricting Rage Of The Merciless (Let’s call it CROTM going forward). This album has so much going on that it would be wrong to pigeon hole it into any one metal subgenre. There are influences from thrash, death metal, black metal, NWOBHM, traditional heavy metal, groove metal and more.
With that said, there certainly is one overlying sound throughout much of the album. Whether it’s black metal driven tracks like “Unraveling Paradise”, “Heaven’s Crumbling Wall of Pity” and “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed” or songs that lean more toward death metal like “Reanimated Sacrifice” and “Schadenfreude”, the vast majority of the songs have one thing in common, fast thrash guitar riffs. CROTM reminded me a lot of classic extreme thrash albums like Slayer’s Show No Mercy, Kreator’s Pleasure To Kill and Destruction’s Infernal Overkill. The only exception to this is the song “Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh” which is a heavy and brutal full on blackened death metal track. The only thrash influence here comes at the very end where the pace is kicked up a few notches. It’s no surprise that this song just did not work for me as much as the rest of the ones on this amazing album.
CROTM begins perfectly with the blazing speed of “Poisonous Existence in Reawakening”. This is a swift kick to the balls that represents everything that you are in store for the rest of the way. “Unraveling Paradise” follows with more fast riffs. Only this time we get a heavier dose of black metal style vocals and hollow tremolo picking. “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed” is another one of the album’s strongest tracks in the vein of “Unraveling Paradise”. While we get some great catchy death/groove metal elements on “Reanimated Sacrifice”, “Schadefreude” represents the best mix of all the various sounds contained on CROTM. The track begins as blackened thrash, and then seamlessly jumps into an extremely heavy and slow death metal groove toward the middle.
All the above mentioned songs represent some of the album’s best, but the the two absolute stand outs would have to be “Baring Teeth for Revolt” and “FBS”. “Baring Teeth for Revolt” was a huge surprise as the song’s main riff seemed to be influenced heavily by classic heavy metal and NWOBHM. It’s what I would imagine Judas Priest would sound like with harsh vocals. On the other hand, “FBS” is an excellent death thrash song that shows off Sammy Duet’s best lead guitar work on the album. This song sounds like early 80’s Slayer and even contains a fast, screechy Kerry King style solo.
I really don’t give a fuck what style people want to throw CROTM into (and you know they will). It is one goddamn excellent heavy metal record and represents one of Goatwhore’s most well rounded releases to date. I only wish the album’s run time had been a bit longer. Give me more of this extreme sustenance!! Don’t go into this album with any preconceived notions or with any thought of trying to understand what subgenre you are listening to. CROTM is so far beyond being able to be classified that it would be downright insulting to the band to even try to do so. This is one of those albums that can and should only be called heavy metal, as Goatwhore once again shows us that they have a style which is truly all their own.
Constricting Rage Of The Merciless is due to be released on July 8, 2014. Take a listen and then circle back to give us your take on the album in our comments section.