Strength through adversity: Interview with Zach Simmons of Goatwhore

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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 Goatwhore coveralbum 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? Goatwhore 03

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!

facebook.com/thegoat666

Read the review for Constricting Rage Of The Merciless @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/goatwhore-constricting-rage-of-the-merciless/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 06/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard @

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Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless

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Two years after unleashing the gripping and exhilarating Blood For The Master, an album which without setting new templates for black-hearted death metal got the passions boiling, Goatwhore uncage successor Constricting Rage of the Merciless. It again is an album which delivers an encounter which is attentive to needs whilst staying within well-trodden avenues yet consumes ears and senses in a tempest of ravenous sounds which leaves satisfaction full and appetite greedy. Brutal and uncompromising, as expected from a Goatwhore release, Constricting Rage of the Merciless also brings a more deliberate and concentrated creative foreplay to its climactic endeavour. Whereas the previous album exploded like a beast in season, the new onslaught prowls and sizes up its opportunities before stealing its prize.

Less than a handful of years away from entering into their third decade, the New Orleans based Goatwhore has left plenty of landmarks and inspiring indentations within metal since being formed by guitarist Sammy Duet (ex-Acid Bath/Crowbar ) in 1997. Their albums, starting with debut Eclipse Of Ages Into Black in 2000 and followed by Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun three years later as well as A Haunting Curse and Carving Out The Eyes Of God of 2006 and 2009 respectively, have thrust the band and their persistently intensifying and potently growing sound into an acclaim lit ever deepening stature. Goatwhore has simply become one of the sure fire attention grabbing, passions igniting propositions in death metal, defying the moment when the band was involved in a near-fatal van crash that left vocalist Louis B. Falgoust II temporarily paralyzed and the future of the band uncertain as well as other bouts of disaster which seemed to stalk the band.

The Erik Rutan recorded Constricting Rage of the Merciless is Goatwhore at their creatively rabid best, entwining new songs with the imagination and invention we have come to expect. With bassist James Harvey and drummer GW-ConstrictingRageZack Simmons alongside Duet and Falgoust, the release also holds surprises which arguably are at times slight but open within a presence which is an organic continuation of Blood For The Master. There is also preciseness to the release, no doubt in some ways down to it being tracked to two-inch tape, something which brings out the intricacies of songwriting and presentation perfectly though it does defuse a little of the always tasty venom which flooded previous encounters. Overall though Constricting Rage Of The Merciless is a thrilling and irresistible proposition which immediately steals ears and emotions with opening track Poisonous Existence in Reawakening.

Riffs and rhythms are instantly ganging up on ears, battering on the senses with urgent predation and merciless intent. Once breaching attention, a raw and fiery examination explodes with incessant rubs of guitars and bass as rhythms persist in their brutal barracking. Riding the unrelenting provocation the vocals of Falgoust grouchily squall and gruffly expel the song’s narrative, another unsurprising but eagerly devoured aspect of the band. Across the song the mood of the assault ebbs and flows, at times rabid and in others moments holding a dark pestilential breath but always demanding and rewarding. It is an excellent mouth-watering and exhausting entrance swiftly emulated by Unraveling Paradise. Again the charge is as hostile and urgent as a horde of slavering beasts, riffs and rhythms grinding and rapping with breathless purpose upon the senses respectively. It is a viciously solid attack but the initially subtle underlying groove which erupts eventually into a contagiously acidic nagging is where the track enslaves the passions. It is masterful bait which binds tightly around the imagination and a rising hunger to overwhelm with the stinging potency of a swarm of hornets.

Baring Teeth for Revolt steps in next with a ferocious burn of heavy metal enterprise, a flavour which dominates the song from start to finish offering a quick twist to the release. It is a track which took longer to convince than certainly its predecessors, but under numerous doses of its persuasion and the impressive spiteful shift into a heavier rapacious savagery around its middle, the track becomes a firm favourite upon the album.

Both Reanimated Sacrifice and Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity keep things boiling enjoyably, the first a muscular tsunami of vitriolic beats and malevolent riffs which never quite goes for the jugular but definitely leaves a gleeful wasted pleasure in the emotions, especially with its brief but flaming solo. It’s almost concussive texture and energy is matched in quality and ferocity by the second of the two, a song which slowly unwinds its voracious attitude and intensity before stalking the senses with urgent gait through a sonic malignancy. Each leaves a rich dose of virulent satisfaction before making way for the atmospheric haunting of Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh. The track opens with a stark and chilling ambience veined by evocative guitars. It sparks the imagination immediately, opening up exploratory thoughts before coming out of its emotive ambience with a lumbering heavy crawl of intense rhythms and pit bred vocals, all laced by emotive sonic designs of guitar. The track is as mesmeric as it is threatening, a fascinating incitement which also takes longer to find success with its suasion but eventually seduces for the strongest satisfaction.

The thrash punk assault of FBS, a virulent urgency driving its caustic expression and tenacity, and the predatory natured Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed ravage and excite years next, both tracks unfussy and surly confrontations which bring a big smile to ears and emotions even if neither finds a flame of unpredictable ingenuity to their bodies. Their enticing presences are assertively matched by the vindictive Schadenfreude, its enticing yet mistrustful grooves leading into darker shadows and infectious savage depths. The song is a spellbinding violation which never quite goes where you want or need yet provides an inventive slavery which is thoroughly inspiring and enthralling.

The album closes with Externalize This Hidden Savagery, a final barbarous consumption driven by volatile rhythms and wonderfully fractious groove spiked riffs. It is a mighty end to a tremendous album, much as expected from Goatwhore but never taken for granted. For personal tastes Constricting Rage of the Merciless just misses the levels set by the last album even though the craft and invention is undoubtedly stunning and presence exceptional but there are fewer songs which stick in the memory. That is the only thing leaving it in the shadow of Blood For The Master but to the fore of death metal releases this year.

Constricting Rage of the Merciless is available now via Metal Blade Records @ http://www.metalblade.com/europe/releases/goatwhore-constricting-rage-of-the-merciless/

www.facebook.com/thegoat666

8/10

RingMaster 08/07/2014

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Goatwhore – Blood For The Master

It really is impossible to imagine a metal fan that will not be swept up and carried away by the impressive and powerful onslaught that is Blood For The Master , the new album from Goatwhore. The release is a brute, an insistent merciless tsunami of sound that will not be denied. Ok the album may not be strong on originality, certainly from the band’s existing catalogue, but very few bands can create intense and creative sounds as essential as Goatwhore nor deliver them as wonderfully.  Though not particularly a fan of the band nor having any negative thoughts about them, they are unquestionably respected and recognised for their presence and influence on metal since their arrival in 1997, given birth by the guitarist Sammy Duet (ex Acid Bath/Crowbar ).  Credit where credit is due and they have earned plenty across their years so far, Blood For The Master rocks like a dog after a bitch on heat. It is relentless, insatiable and will have its way.

Since forming and through various line-ups New Orleans based Goatwhore has laid down a deep mark on metal, their fused blackened death come thrash metal devastating and constantly pulling in formidable acclaim and continually increasing loyal fans. From the demo Serenades To The Tides Of Blood in 1998, through debut album Eclipse Of Ages Into Black in 2000 onto 2003 follow up Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun, the band drew unwavering positive responses, each release showing more of the band and their varied ideas and evolution. All powerful and brutal but brought forth with a progressively evolving sound.

The band has held misfortune by the hand more than once over the years too, the near fatal van crash that left vocalist Louis B. Falgoust II temporarily paralyzed and the band unsure of its future and the escape from the catastrophic floods of Hurricane Katrina just two examples. This has seemed to add more iron and intensity to the band’s sound as subsequent albums A Haunting Curse(2006) and Carving Out The Eyes Of God (2009) showed. New album Blood For The Master is made from the same brute force and stylish creativity and if sound wise is not a major departure from its predecessor has an even more defined authority and depth to it.

Opening up the charge and turbulent engagement of the senses ‘Collapse In Eternal Worth’ is a violent and incessant attack, with  uncompromising rhythms and riffs violating every inch of the ear and beyond.  The guitars of Duet twists nerves around their spiky fingers stretching and turning them throughout whilst Falgoust scowls and unleashes his coarse spite vocals to great effect. An impressive start soon swiped away by the even more masterful ‘When Steel and Bone Meet’. It is an unstoppable trash powered sonic train hammering on the ear, drummer Zack Simmons and bassist James Harvey fuelling the drive with eager vindictive rhythms.

This is just the start as the next duo of tracks ‘Parasitic Scriptures of the Sacred Word’ and ‘In Deathless Tradition’ hold dominion.  The first swings with a scorched groove that mesmerises as the intensity is raised even higher behind. The track is confident and arrogant in its knowledge it has you hooked and deliciously glorious because of it. Ferocious and a maul upon the senses it is the biggest highlight on the album. The second of the two is in some ways even more intense, its heart blacker and malevolent and carries another irresistible groove veined by corrosive melodic manipulations. Each track upon the album feels like a living entity, each with a distinct unstoppable corrupting mission and directive.

Tracks carry on stimulating and provoking, each laden with an artillery of venomous riffs and barbed melodic intrusions. The likes of ‘Judgement of the Bleeding Crown’, ‘An End to Nothing’, and ‘Death to the Architects of Heaven’ impressively adding to a fulfilling and satisfying menu to feast upon. This is metal as it should be, furious, hostile, and  overwhelmingly heavy. Blood For The Master is a pleasure, it may not be ground breaking but very few releases match the enjoyment it and Goatwhore give.

Blood For The Master will be released in Europe Feb 10th, UK Feb 13th, and  North America on Feb14th

RingMaster 07/02/2012

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