Goatwhore - A Haunting Curse - Metal Blade Records 2006
Running Time: 39:13
I confess. I really wasn't sure where Goatwhore would go from the genre-mangling of redneck oldschool BM/death that was Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun. Would they continue forging their own path, blazing a trail of their own that still ran somewhat parallel to innovators par excellence Immortal? Or would they revert to kultified abrasive Black Metal as done by Sammy's beloved Beherit, content to have fucked with our heads with Funeral..., and now crawling back into the stinking swamps that
surround Southern Louisiana?
As it turns out, the answer is a bit of both, and the world of American metal is the better for it. If drums could be described as "guttural", Zack Simmons rhythmic belchings during "Wear These Scars Of Testimony" are the initial contender, machinegunning their way through the rampaging madness. Breaking from Marduk-styled war metal into groovy Transilvanian Hunger Darkthrone (think "I En Hall Med Flesk Og Mjod") with no regard for the broken necks left behind. Pure Southern USBM stomp carries "Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult", a bit of Swe-death rearing its Dismembered head, but only momentarily. Nathan Bergeron's bass hangs tough with the scathing, Hellborn riffs of Sammy Duet, especially in the demonic riff from 1:49 - 2:11, which will gladly hand you your pretty Dimmu Borgir-appreciating head on a maggot-strewn silver platter. There's a bit more NOLA in the mix as well this time, which could serve to bring the strangely separate sludge crowd over to the Dark (capital D) side of the blood-drenched reality that is Goatwhore. Crowbar riffs muscle their way drunkenly into the bridge of the otherwise Immortal worship of "My Eyes Are The Spears Of Chaos", and near melodic leads lurk murderously amid the flaming black shadows of "In The Narrow Confines Of Defilement". The latter features the 'whore blazing it up for all their worth just after torching your eardrums like a flamethrower through damp pages of church hymnals, which has kind of been the band's stock and trade all along. Ben Falgoust's vox on the title track are positively demolishing, and it's during "A Haunting Curse" that Goatwhore again show their willingness to experiment if it means turning your perceptions upside down. Processed vocals join Falgoust's most traditional take on BM, the punishing rhythm section and Duet's guitars winding tendril-like around the listener before bludgeoning in fiery fury. "Silence Marked By The Breaking Of Bone" invokes both crushing hatred and violence-inducing depression, Sammy's string bends conjuring Craft with the riff around the 1:30 mark. Nearing the end of the album, it becomes clear that the Erik Rutan production has - as with the newest Soilent Green platter - lent a fullness and burl to this misanthropic testament to total assault against the forces of light. Tattered, sustained guitars colour the brief instrumental segue "Of Ashen Slumber", bleeding into the maniacal deathcharge of "I Avenge Myself", the lyric "The hand of war raised from the blood of fallen angels." being a perfect summing-up of all that is Goatwhore's third (and most solid by a longshot) offering to the Darkness.
The time between releases has seen the band nearly rot as the floodwaters of Katrina swirled around and through their homes. Falgoust being involved in yet another insane automobile accident that could've easily put the final nail in this rotted coffin, and cemented the fact that someone with less than kind motives is gunning for these guys. It's with A Haunting Curse that Goatwhore triumphantly burst from the tomb, bloody sheep's head in one hand, the other a defiant middle finger pointed at the Heavens.