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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