Review: Goatwhore – Vengeful Ascension

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There’s something to be said about “comfort food”, dishes that don’t stray too far from what a person enjoys. We don’t always need to have surprises — whether it’s in our meals or our music — and there have been a lot of unique and interesting dishes in the metal community lately. Goatwhore brings zero surprises with their seventh album, and my job today is to decide if that will suffice in this, the year of our Lord (Satan) 2017.

What are some attributes which come to mind when a person mentions Goatwhore? “Smoldering” is good one, in fact that’s the quite-appropriate “genre” tag embedded in the promotional MP3s. “Ripping”, “shredding”, “badass”, I’ll take all those and more. This NOLA-based quartet wears their badassery on their sleeves (in the form of spiked wristbands), wrapping a message of “f**k you God” in a tightly-constructed package of thrashy black metal goodness with no filler. Ballads? Nope. Fast songs? Yep. Atmospheric segues? Nope. Faster songs? Yep. You get the idea.

The first song “Forsaken” is a mid-paced rocker which boasts a large amount of groove, one that’s ranked quite low on the “sounds evil” scale. It boasts some interesting drumming during the hook, predictable chord progressions during the verses, and a cool bridge. Track 2 is a little faster-paced and maintains the level of groove, while also maintaining the lack of a very fierce bite. This is the band who once made the hairs on our arms stand up straight when Ben Falgoust shouted “who needs a god when you’ve got Satan!!!” many years ago. Track 3 (embedded above) is back to the slow, albeit eerie, groove and low level of momentum. “Chaos Arcane” finally ramps up the ferocity to an exciting level, but that’s the fourth track on here; and it’s over as soon as we move into the fifth song.

There’s a trilogy of truly tenacious thrashers in songs 6, 7, and 8 though. Those twelve minutes of music offer a small window of the intensity that Goatwhore gave us on the almost-classic “Carving Out the Eyes of God”, with several tempo changes and guitar solos. I just wish moments like these were the rule instead of the exception. While I may subtract a few points for lack of creativity, the album really does contain a handful of memorable butt-kickers.

Vengeful Ascension is an extremely safe record that gets an extremely safe review of three toilets ov flame. It’s fine, but I wish there was more here to enjoy. No Goatwhore fan is going to turn down more new Goatwhore music, and so somebody with six of their albums is going to be happy to add the seventh one to his or her collection. I doubt a newcomer to this style of music is going to become hooked with Vengeful Ascension, that job would be better left suited to the aforementioned Carving… or even 2014’s Constricting Rage of the Merciless. The band’s impressive sense of consistency helps them just a little more than it hurts, making it an overall positive listen.

You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp, it comes out on June 23rd. It’s pretty good!

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  • I enjoy Goatwhore. Perfectly good metal. I’ll buy this.

    Their name conjures up images not of Satanism to me but of, like, a slutty goat dressed up in a miniskirt with a face full of bad makeup.

  • AndySynn

    Pretty much my feelings too. This is the first Goatwhore album I’ve ever felt ambivalent about, which is an unfortunate state of affairs. There’s a couple of rippers, but, yeah… “safe” is a good way of putting it.

    • Joaquin Stick

      Damn, are you going to make me create a second account so I can both upvote and downvote this?

      • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

        ONE CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY DISCUSS ACCOUNT, MR STICK!!!!!!!

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Great review Jimmy!
    If I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t heard a single Goatwhore album that ever ‘wowed’ me – and I listened to them all. Their music is solid, but offers little on the intrigue side imho.
    Though I do think Falgoust is a perfectly fine vokillist and Sammy has my eternal respect for being a foremost member in a completely unfuckwithable band in the past…their name escapes me…

    • Señor Jefe El Rossover

      I like Falgoust with Soilent Green more.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Soilent Green is another band that has always been pretty solid, but haven’t really made an album either where I’d go:

        https://m.popkey.co/3508eb/VelEJ.gif

    • Howard Dean

      Same. Just never really got into Goatwhore even though there is nothing overtly offensive or “bad” about their stuff. There are so many other bands from the NOLA scene that are leagues more interesting–Acid Bath being the foremost of the bunch, but with Eyehategod, Soilent Green, Crowbar, and even Down being just plain better.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I consider Acid Bath, Eyehategod and Crowbar all favorites of mine. Down was never really “sludge” imo, but they did create somewhat of their own sound – Sabbath meets Skynyrd basically – and nailed that sound. They may not be all that enjoyable to those who hate everything Anselmo, but when we’re talking about exceptionally heavy modern rock music (be it metal, really heavy hard rock or hardcore punk) I consider NOLA to be one of my all-time favorite albums.
        Soilent Green was always ‘good’, but never really made an album that stuck out imo, unlike Eyehategod, Acid Bath, Crowbar or Down who – dependent on who you’re talking to – all produced at least two or more albums that could be considered “classic material” in their respective styles.
        Goatwhore, I feel, is a band that’s just there to scratch a specific itch – but nothing more.

        • Howard Dean

          Totally. I think most of the shit Down gets is from people with hateboners for Anselmo. You described their sound perfectly–Sabbath meets Skynyrd. Good shit.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            So far I’ve been able to enjoy every album Down has put out. There’s only one NOLA, but the second and third albums are great in their own right as well and even the ep’s have a few solid jams. Then again, I don’t think Anselmo in general is nearly as bad as some think he is.

          • Howard Dean

            Yeah, I enjoyed the Down IV EPs. Like you said, they weren’t NOLAs, but they were good for what they were.

        • GoatForest

          NOLA is one of my absolute favorite albums.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            You can’t mess with NOLA.

    • GoatForest

      Their live show is where they really shine. They are unfuckwithable there.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Haven’t seen them live myself, but they do seem like a good live band. When I’m discussing music I’m mostly talking about the studio stuff. There are however bands whose albums are solid but nothing special, yet play fantastic live shows. For instance, I think Grave’s albums themselves aren’t as excellent as the classic albums by Entombed or Dismember, yet when Grave play live, they are completely unfuckwithable.

        • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

          MR GOATFOREST RIGHT!!!!!! ME GONNA SEE FOR FOUTH TIME SINCE 2002 IN COUPLE OV WEEKS!!!!!! GOATWHORE RULEZ LIVE!!!!!!!

          • Gorak, i’ve never seen them live, but i most certainly wouldn’t pass up the chance!

  • Joaquin Stick

    Weird, I just bought that Hallowed Catharsis album you linked to this morning. Also, I have sorta found myself enjoying these so-called “safe” albums less and less over the past few months. With the absurd quantity of new stuff I find mildly interesting, I am really craving shit that just blows me away. Maybe I should be one of those weirdos who only listens to like 3 new albums a year to take my standards down a bit.

    • you’re touching on a topic about which i consider often. this here blog serves as a finely-tuned guide for the kinds of music that we metalheads enjoy, there’s just a never-ending stream of exciting and interesting stuff. the Toilet is like a hub, a meeting place for listeners, artists, and even labels (or representatives thereof). if you’re a thrillseeker, there’s no shortage of them here. lately i find myself getting bored with an album a lot quicker than i did years ago. my MP3 player is constantly rotating stuff, few albums get the chance to grow old in there.
      (ooooh, Think Tank article idea!)

      • Joaquin Stick

        Yep, even albums that I really enjoy, I only listen to them… maybe once a month? Probably less (unless I am reviewing it). Part of that is that I don’t want to get bored of it, so I’m like savoring its ability to surprise me by listening less. This may or may not work in reality lol.

      • tigeraid

        Same. I find it difficult to go back and re-listen to stuff. I’m sort of bothered by it, actually, because I’m worried I’m missing deeper meanings, themes, riffs I may have missed, underrated gems, etc…

  • Dental_Damnation

    So what you’re saying is they’ve become the Amon Amarth of blackened thrash?

    • great comparison! i checked out of AA (huehue) after Twilight of the Thunder Gods.

      • Dumpster Lung

        Please tell me you’ve listened to the old stuff by now, too! I’m not one of those people that hates the Twilight-onward era of their sound. By the contrary, Deceiver of the Gods is one of my absolute favorites of theirs, but man that old stuff really rips.

        • For sure, I was a big fan of theirs, especially at Vs the World.

      • GoatForest

        Same here. I own those latter albums, but they very middling, imo.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        I liked the latest, not that it was anything special, but imo more consistently good than the preceding few.

        • An Elfic creature who roams these lands also recommended their latest. At yours and his behest, I might should give ‘er a listen!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            By no means is it a classic, but worth it – if you enjoy their style.

    • tigeraid

      A fine simile, actually. And just as listenable.

  • tigeraid

    THANK you, Detective. Goatwhore is very simple, but damned if it isn’t good driving music. They deliver what is promised.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      With a name like “Goatwhore” they also make excellent making out music

    • Óðinn

      Good morning music. Helps me wake up. Energetic.

  • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

    GORAK AGREE!!!!!! GOATWHORE JUST GOOD ENOUGH FOR NOT BE “MEH”!!!!!!!!! ALSO WUNDER IF HUBERT DIG GOATWHORE???????

  • Eliza

    If anything, albums that don’t stray too far from the pre-established formula are good introductions into a band’s discography.