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 Zack 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/
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