Review by Fernando on January 6, 2022.
Goatwhore is by now one of the most noteworthy names of US extreme metal, and have had an interesting trajectory insofar how each album seemed to be a refining of their now signature sound wherein they combine black metal with death and thrash. And back in 2017, they released record lucky number 7, Vengeful Ascension.
The unmistakable sound of Goatwhore is still very much present here and, naturally the music as a whole is a continuation of the previous record. The perfect blend of blackened death-thrash with flourishes of classic heavy metal in the riffs and solos, and the occasional NOLA trademarked slow and doomy sections that are reminiscent of Sammy Duet's previous band and cult favorites, Acid Bath. However a major change is in the actual tone, and by that I mean the guitar work. The guitars are much muddier and sludgy, in fact, a good portion of the tracks are much more mid-paced than the blistering and unhinged speed of Constricting Rage Of The Merciless, however, the band do still retain their aggressive speed, but with the heavy and murky guitars and thumping bass. And it goes without saying, the lineup (at the time) continued their individual talents and strength as a unit. Sammy Duet is still a masterclass shredded and soloist, Ben Falgoust's dry growls are as demented and ferocious as ever, Zack Simmons has pretty much been perfecting his drumming since he first joined Goatwhore in his teens, and former member James Harvey's bass was the perfect foil for Duet's riffage.
The best aspect of the album and this is where the NOLA doom laden tracks benefit, is the pacing and the way the songs are arranged. In the first three quarters of the album, each slower track is followed by a faster track, while it admittedly makes the album formulaic, all the songs are memorable and catchy in their own regard, and of course, old habits die hard, as the last tracks of the album are when Goatwhore goes heavy and fast to deadly effect. With the closing track 'Those Who Denied God's Will' being the best song in the entire album.
The final aspect of the album is actually the production. The previous record was produced by Erik Rutan who needs no introduction, and gave that last album the polish and sheen it needed for the thrashing speed to shine. In here the production is heavier and murkier, which suits the doomier leanings, and it also makes the faster tracks sound heavier and have more sonic depth, and it isn't surprising given how this record's producer, Jarrett Pritchard has worked with a lot of sludge, black and brutal death metal bands, so making heavy and oppressive records is his schtick, and he was able to mesh rather well with Goatwhore.
Overall this was an interesting new direction for Goatwhore, some people were disappointed which is understandable given most expected another dose of fast and aggressive blackened death-thrash, but as it stands this album shows how the band can go in a different direction and maintain their core essence, as well as achieving some dynamics in a subgenre where the longer the bands last, the less interesting they become.
Best tracks: 'Under The Flesh', 'Into The Soul', 'Where The Sun Is Silent', 'Abandon Indoctrination', 'Those Who Denied God's Will'
Rating: 9 out of 10445
Review by Frost on January 3, 2022.
Three years. Three years of waiting with bated breath for the new release of the NOLA blackened death juggernauts. I know that I, myself, was anticipating the new album to be another home run. After all, the two albums that came before it were amazing in their own right. Nothing wrong with a third to round it out.
Unfortunately this time around, there's a bit of a bitter aftertaste following this album's digestion. Let's discuss it, shall we?
I'm confident that many fans of Goatwhore attended their shows and got the laminate that came with the pre-order code to have the album sent to you, along with a t-shirt detailing the album's pretty badass cover art. I wasn't one of them, sadly. They never came around to Charlotte this time around and not having a car makes it difficult to attend shows outside of your city. Luckily for me and others, there was still hope. We were still able to order the laminate that had the pre-order code to get the shirt and the album. I did. So come mid-June, I got my copy of the new album early and I immediately popped it into my computer, ripped it to Windows Media Player, and hit play, eager to have my sense of reality destroyed completely and utterly as they've done time and time again.
From the album's start, the immediate thing that draws my attention besides the drum beat that opens the first song is the production style. Unlike the albums that came before it, especially Constricting Rage Of The Merciless, the guitars don't sound as sharp, the double bass has lost most of its punch, and the vocals sound buried in some spots. It's confusing why they decided to change producers because it takes away most of the power these songs have. To be fair to them, the band stated they wanted to try working with a different producer, specifically it was because they wanted to give this album a more live feel to the sound. They did it with the intention of changing things up, maybe level the playing field. Here's the thing, though. Eric Rutan is a fantastic producer. He produced the band's best sounding albums, the albums that had the most memorable songs partly because of the clear production. Mind you, aforementioned albums weren't squeaky clean - for Goatwhore, that would be a mortal sin - but they maintained a level of sheer rawness that gave songs like 'Baring Teeth For Revolt' or 'When Steel And Bone Meet', which were already incredibly performed (and are even better live) such immense, earth destroying power. That's just not here with Vengeful Ascension. That kind of sucks because if things were clearer, some of these songs would have much more power than they do.
For instance, the songs 'Chaos Arcane' and 'Under The Flesh, Into The Soul' are definitely two flagship songs that immediately make you look past the off-putting production. They both start off intensely with a driving beat and riffs that rip, shred, and tear like nobody's business. Jack Harvey and Sammy Duet are, once again, displaying their fantastic chemistry with one another. There's never been any shortage of the most vicious, razor sharp guitar riffs and tantalizingly evil bass lines that ring through clearly the malice very much intended to violently endow upon the listener all the impunity that can be offered, no matter who's behind the instruments. Zack Simmons has always stayed at the top of his game since the very beginning of his days starting with A Haunting Curse. As time went on, he's only gotten better, varying up his drumming technique since those days with unique fills, intensely fast blast beats and plenty of variety to really keep listeners on their toes. These are just two of the few songs giving the finest examples of the best this album has to offer, not to mention, every band member in top form here.
Sadly, I can't say the same for the main venom spewer of the bunch, Ben Falgoust. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but get the feeling that Ben is phoning it in on this record. Not entirely, though. He is still incredibly vicious behind the microphone on the faster tracks like 'Mankind Will Have No Mercy'. It's mostly a track by track basis for him here whereas on every track on the past two efforts, he sounded like he wanted to end the goddamn world as we knew it. Have you heard 'Baring Teeth For Revolt' or 'When Steel And Bone Meet'? Listen to that man's performance on those songs. He sounds fucking possessed. On this album, he doesn't sound possessed or hungering for utter ruination of mankind throughout the whole thing. On some songs he does. On others, it's the standard scream/growl he's employed time and time again with little spice to keep the listener on the edge of their seat.
The songs themselves aren't very memorable, either. Some of them like 'When The Sun Is Silent' and the title track feel as if they're on autopilot. It's like the band is going through the motions. The album opener, 'Forsaken', isn't that great of an opener. It starts off slowly and meanders in that deathly tribal pace until its conclusion. A few blast beats and great fills here and there, but nothing amazing to really report. One song started up from this album on my randomizer and I couldn't remember what it was. Hell, until I heard the vocals, I couldn't even tell it was Goatwhore. It was that foreign to my ears. It sounded like an entirely different band. I think it was 'Decayed Omen Reborn', but I couldn't tell you off the top of my head. With every other Goatwhore album (with the exception of Carving Out the Eyes Of God and Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun), I've memorized at least one aspect of each song after the first complete listen. I could then subsequently tell you the name of the song after one more listen. I can't do that here and I've listened to this album multiple times. Only a few songs stick out that make me do that like 'Mankind Will Have No Mercy', 'Drowned In Grim Rebirth', and the closer track 'Those Who Denied God's Will'.
Overall, this album was a letdown, which sucks because I was really hoping this would be another near flawless addition to their already fantastic discography. I'm confident many of these songs would sound better live than in the studio. I don't doubt that at all. It sounds like it's what the fans wanted and what the band intended. In my opinion, Goatwhore should release a live album at this point. They've got seven albums under their belt and they're damn near a household name to those who hold extreme metal near and dear to their hearts. Release a live album with a glut of songs spanning their entire career from The Eclipse Of Ages Into Black to now. That would be a great gift to the fans. I'm sure it was with good intention to give their fans what they wanted to make their new album resemble a live performance in sound, atmosphere, and overall power, but here it just didn't work. At least it didn't work for me.
'Under the Flesh, Into the Soul'
'Mankind Will Have No Mercy'
'Those Who Denied God's Will'
Rating: 7 out of 10445
Review by Yener on May 14, 2019.
So, it's been three years since Goatwhore's excellent Constricting Rage of the Merciless, and for me personally, the wait has been a long one indeed. Having loved that album, and pretty much all of their previous offerings, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into this. I've also been a fan of Acid Bath and most notably Sammy Duet forever now, as I also love the work he did with Crowbar - another one of my NOLA favorites.
I'll be honest - I didn't care for even the name of the album when I first heard it. Vengeful Ascension? Ehh. Anyway, then the album cover dropped, and I didn't really like that, either. Keep in mind, Goatwhore are one of my favorite bands, so these are all legit tough things for me. Then the first song dropped ("Vengeful Ascension") and I thought okay, this must be one of the slower tracks on the album. Not one I would try to promote the record with, but whatever. I guess the rest of the album is better.
Well, it is, and it isn't. I won't be going into individual tracks too much, but for me, the whole listening experience here is rather quite dull and uninspired. There are a few stand out tracks, of course, but most of the album, as much as I hate to say it, is forgettable. Utterly and completely forgettable. Gone are the razor sharp and catchy riffs. Gone are the interesting arrangements.
The album actually starts off pretty promising with "Forsaken", but then it quickly goes pear shaped with the tracks following it. Only nearly ten minutes later does it pick back up again with "Chaos Arcane", which is the closest thing to classic Goatwhore on here - with good riffs, excellent drumming, and a good vocal performance.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the musicianship on this record. The songs themselves are just dull - that's the problem. I mean, no one really wants to sit through a track like "Where the Sun is Silent", come on. It's frustrating because these guys are all complete badasses at what they do, and I know they can do so much better than this. How did this even make the final cut? No one else fell asleep during this song so they decided to put it on here? Sorry guys, but this is not good enough.
The album picks up the pace once again, but it struggles to get any kind of momentum going, despite Zack's terrific performance throughout the whole album. The songs start and they just kind of go nowhere, and with no purpose.
There are some really excellent moments though, such as "Abandon Indoctrination", where Goatwhore put on their black metal faces and just kind of go for it. "Mankind Will Have No Mercy" is another stand out, and just the classic Goatwhore we love and come to expect. When they fall into the groove - and it doesn't matter which groove it is - Goatwhore is a seriously deadly band. The problem with this album is that they just have a hard time maintaining any kind of balance or consistency. Yes, consistency. That's the word. That's what they are struggling to hit throughout this album.
Overall, I was pretty let down by this. And I really hate saying that. Trust me, I love Goatwhore. My Last FM profile says they are my most listened to band ever with nearly 3000 plays. I have their entire back catalog memorized. But this one just didn't do it for me. It's not fast or aggressive or angry enough - it leans more towards atmosphere which can be fine for a while but when that is the bulk of an album, I lost interest quickly - and especially during a month when Dying Fetus, Origin and Decapitated have also released albums. I would much rather listen to them than this simply because the song writing is more interesting.
Goatwhore is a band I will never be writing off, no matter what happens. Some albums just have that magic you're looking for, and some just don't. This one doesn't. I will patiently be waiting for the next release as I know these masters from NOLA can do a lot better than this.
Rating: 3.5 out of 10445
Review by Adam M on September 20, 2017.
Goatwhore’s music spews forth with venomous intent. This is music that rollicks along at a nice pace and puts forth the pedal on the metal. The songs are doomy, but more rooted in the sludge, black metal and death metal genres. While it doesn’t belong exclusively with one genre, the album seems content to jump around to different genres at the blink of an eye.
What seems to be consistent with all of the songs, however, is the groove present. The songs will induce head banging in the greatest sense possible. When we break down the band musically, we can see fine things. The vocals are spiteful, but accessible enough to dig into. The guitar riffs have that same element of groove that something like Celtic Frost has. The drumming provides a nice backdrop to the remainder of the music in fine fashion. Altogether, the music of the band is tight and fiery. The music of this band seems to be most rooted in the sludgy type that has a strong NOLA element present.
The tunes here are successful, but perhaps not the best the band has shown us. That honor would go to my personal favorite Blood for the Master. Still, songs like Where the Sun is Silent have their own unique impact on the listener. The mid-paced groove of the tracks is wonderful to behold and unique to the band’s sound. Still, there isn’t anything overly original to be found on this recording. If you’ve delved into the band’s back catalogue at all, you’ll find songs that are similar to those that are found here. Still, this formula is one that is exciting and still sounds fairly fresh. Thus, make sure to check out Vengeful Ascension.
Rating: 7.6 out of 10445