Goatwhore is one of those propositions which triggers extra sparks of enthusiasm and anticipation when you hear of a new unleashing from the New Orleans based band, and their new album Constricting Rage of the Merciless was certainly no different. Following the gripping and exhilarating Blood For The Master, it had much to live up to but rose to the task with ease to provide another brutal and uncompromising, as well as rigorously thrilling provocation. Not needing to be asked twice, we grabbed the chance to find out more about band and album through drummer Zack Simmons, proceeding to discuss the origins of and challenges before the band over the years as well as looking at the recording of and inspiration for their latest triumph…
Hi Zack and thank you for taking time to talk with us.
Before launching ourselves at new album Constricting Rage of the Merciless, can you give newcomers to Goatwhore some history to the band and its birth?
The band started around 1996 after Sammy’s other band, Acid Bath dissolved. It was out of a necessity to keep playing music for him and to take a darker direction than his previous band. I joined about ten years ago and our current bassist has been with us for five years, so this has been the most consistent line-up for the band.
Was there a specific intent behind the band and its sound at the start and has that continued today or evolved into something different?
The band started out with a heavily Celtic Frost, Bathory influenced sound and has sort of evolved to become its own animal. Those influences are definitely still intact but we’ve grown over time to allow some of our other influences to shine through as well. A lot of the stuff we grew up on, like Motorhead and Judas Priest has definitely made its way into our sound.
It is fair to say that the years have brought plenty of obstacles from the maybe accepted like line-up changes to the unexpected such as paranormal activity and natural disasters to bear on members and the band as a whole. Without this kind of trauma to incite the band’s emotions do you think Goatwhore and its sound would have been a different kind of beast?
I think all of those things have a big part in making the band what it is. We are sort of a product of our environment and experiences and even though we’ve had our fair share of negative occurrences, we’ve always seemed to come out the other end stronger.
All bands need perseverance and commitment to the cause but Goatwhore has needed more than most over the years would you say?
I would say so. We’ve been through a lot, man. Ben was involved in a van accident on tour which left him with two broken legs and not knowing if he’d be able to walk again. Also, hurricane Katrina was a major setback for the band. The album title kind of says it all. All these things that happen just make us want to push harder and keep going instead of being defeated. It makes for some very aggressive music.
As we mentioned you have just unleashed new album Constricting Rage of the Merciless, what was the feeling over it compared to previous albums for you as it was unveiled to the world?
Every album is very special to me because it is kind of a snapshot in time and holds a lot of memories and emotions. I think this is a very special album for the band and it’s just the next step in the evolution of Goatwhore. With every record you try to step things up a notch on every level. I definitely think we achieved that with this one.
How do you see the difference in sound and presence between Constricting Rage of the Merciless and previous albums Blood For The Master and Carving Out The Eyes Of God?
The main difference in the sound of this record and our past records stems from the fact that we tracked to two inch tape instead of digitally. It was a more time consuming process but the end result was well worth it. I think you can hear more of a vibe in this album and a punchier, warmer sound overall. Erik Rutan really outdid himself on this one.
You just mentioned that the new album was tracked to two-inch tape, what was the inspiration and idea behind this and how did this impact on your approach and style?
We thought it’d be a great way to try and capture our live sound on a record. Some bands want the really modern digital sound but that approach doesn’t really work for us. We want that classic, thick, heavy sound and recording to tape really brought that out. Recording to tape really requires you to be on top of your game and very prepared since there is much less opportunity for studio trickery. It’s a much more honest approach to recording and it worked very well for this band.
Where do you see the album pushes the Goatwhore sound and invention most potently?
I’d say there is a bit more anger and venom on this album than some of the more recent ones. It’s got a bit more variation as well. A song like Cold Earth… is an example of something we’ve never really done before. Little variations like that allow the album to breathe a little more and offer more of a ride for the listener.
Did you bring anything else majorly different way in songwriting and recording to the album this time around?
It was pretty much business as usual. I’d say we were more into the idea of trying new things and a little less apprehensive of changing things up a bit. Sometimes it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and see what happens. It’s a good way to stretch your boundaries as a musician.
How does the songwriting process work within the band more often than not?
It all starts with getting into the practice room and firing up the amps. We’ll sift through the riff library and throw ideas around until something clicks. We also do a lot of work on our own since we live in different places. We’ll email ideas and song structures back and forth to get a head start on things for the next time we get together.
Other than being bred from the writers and band’s hearts how personal are your songs at their core?
I’m sure every song means something to different to each of us but each song is very personal to me. It’s an outlet of creativity and aggression that we all put a lot of heart into.
As you said earlier gain you linked up with Erik Rutan in the studio; was that always going to be the only choice of who to helm the recording or did you ever contemplate a new direction at any point here or on previous releases?
We never really thought of working with anyone else. We have very much the same vision in how this band needs to sound and how to make that happen. We work very well together and improve upon things with each record.
Eric is in many ways like an unofficial member of Goatwhore?
Totally! He really is the fifth member of the band.
We felt whereas Blood For The Master exploded like a beast in season that Constricting Rage Of The Merciless is more of a predatory proposition, one which prowls and sizes up the listener before going for their throats. Is that something you can see between the two?
I totally agree with that. This album has more of a bloodthirsty, murderous vibe to it. It’s a bit more chaotic and violent.
Every release to some degree opens a doorway to a new train of thought for bands about their sound and ideation ahead. Has there been anything about Constricting Rage Of The Merciless which has sparked certain ideas or intent for the next engagement?
It’s never something we plan or think about ahead of time. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there but I’m sure it’ll happen very organically and naturally like it always has. We are focused on touring now and spreading these new songs to any and every place with a stage and a power outlet.
Is there a particular aspect or moment within the album which gives you the biggest personal tingle of satisfaction?
To me, every song on the record gives a lot of gratification but one that really sticks out is Cold Earth…. After being bludgeoned with the first five songs, I think it’s the perfect song to set the tone for the second half of the album. It’s a pretty unique song for us.
What is next in store for and from Goatwhore?
We’ve got another two weeks on the Summer Slaughter tour with Morbid Angel in the US. After that we’ll be doing dates with Samhain in the US then heading to Europe with Dying Fetus in November.
Once again thanks so much for chatting with us. Any last words you have for us all?
No problem. Thank you! I hope to see you all at a show in the near future!
Read the review for Constricting Rage Of The Merciless @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/goatwhore-constricting-rage-of-the-merciless/
The RingMaster Review 06/08/2014
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