At this point in Goatwhore’s 25 years of existence, it’s safe to say there’s not a ton of meddling with the formula of black thrashing death metal that’s as viscous as the murky swamps from their home base of Louisiana. It’s also safe to say, if you’re reading this, you’re either a fan or not since there’s no middle ground here. Whether or not this eighth full length, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven will sway opinions on that matter is up to you. However, this band is nothing if not consistent and this effort is exactly that, but to assume that’s the whole story is, well… you know what they say about assuming.
Depending on where you were in the world back in 2000 when The Eclipse Of Ages Into Black came out, hearsay about this group from Louisiana that was ripping shit up with none other than Sammy Duet (ACID BATH!) on guitars permeated minds and imaginations. However, securing a copy was not easy and allowed these rumors to blossom. Maybe this was just a me problem due to location, but I digress. Fact of the matter is, these rumors spread like wildfire as Eclipse… was like nothing else at the time; was it black metal? Not really, but yes. Was it thrash? Not quite, but yes. Death metal? Again, not totally but yes. To the point; it was fast, furious, dark, and exuded everything evil and bombastic about underground metal in one complete package. The blueprint for the band we know now was there, just hidden deep within goat filled pastures. Two albums later on A Haunting Curse and then particularly on follow up Carving Out the Eyes of God is when said pastures split open and belched forth this fiery beast of fiercely melodic and anthemic black thrash and the formula, as we know it, was set for the next three albums.
Successful formulas just work. There’s a litany of bands any finger could point at and say “see, I told you.” With successful formulas some may say complacency sets in over the course of time, but really when it’s “successful” and the owners of said fingers enjoy it, who cares? That’s a long way of saying; if Goatwhore brings some sort of joy then this album will further that as their formula remains largely unchanged. So then, why a bunch of words when I could’ve said that in one line up top, pasted a Bandcamp embed, and signed off? Glad you asked. It’s a rhetorical question really, but to the point, it’s because Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven is their toughest, tightest release to date that doesn’t stray from their set formula, yet is executed better and goes a few places that no other album has. Essentially broadening their base, if you will.
True opener “Born Of Satan’s Flesh” does for this album what “Apocalyptic Havoc” did for Carving…, it lobs a flash bang grenade in the room and attacks, nonstop. Zack Simmons is an absolute battering ram behind the drum kit and it’s a good thing Sammy Duet trusts his guitar as it takes a beating. Sneak in a couple of well timed melodic bridges and voila! Opener is a banger, no surprise. Follow up “The Bestowal Of Abomination” continues this trend, but Duet’s guitar solos are unreal and Ben Falgoust’s vocals hit a new range; screaming and growling yes, but there’s a much better level of clarity than ever before. So, right off the top it’s Goatwhore. Just tighter and tougher, like I said.
Let’s talk about anthemic for a second. “Ruinous Liturgy” is a track that will open up a pit, period. And said pit will be bouncing in rhythm right along with this marauding cadence. This is the kind of track every metalhead will flash a grin over and may or may not suffer a bit of whiplash from. The interplay between band members here is bulletproof and more seamless than a herd of zombies on a fresh kill. Bottom line “Baring Teeth For Revolt” just got dethroned (yea, believe it). “Victory Is The Lightning Of Destruction” bares some sharp, classic heavy metal teeth and showcases just how good bassist Robert “TA” Coleman is with holding the low end together and, again, Zack shines here with his melodic high hat fills (I’m not a musician and no idea if there’s a name for this, but it’s bad ass so there’s that). Simply put, this is yet another bulletproof performance that shows a slightly different side of the band; they’ve always had a classic heavy metal bone about them but here it’s front and center AND it works like a charm.
Late album slapper “Nihil” is bookended with what I refer to as a piece of home, and history, for these guys. “Weight Of A Soulless Heart” is a balls out doomy rocker that’s as dark as it is catchy while closer “And I Was Delivered From The Wound Of Perdition” is a sludgy juggernaut full of sweaty swamp juice and the lazy haze of early morning fog following a hard night of partying in the French Quarter and conjuring demons in Metairie Cemetery. This is, without a doubt, the darkest track they’ve ever released but also one that allows them all to stretch out and lean into the jams. Neither of these tracks lack the black metal intensity of the likes of their earliest recorded output, so their soul is completely intact..fear not. However, this pairing is a unique way to cap off a stunning album and fully lean into their slower side in lieu of just toying with it as they’ve done, sparingly, in the past.
Early on I mentioned that this is Goatwhore, unfettered and unchanged. It’s just better than ever. Tighter, tougher, more melodic and more raw than their most recent output. There’s just so much more here to love and if you’re a fan, this should come as no surprise. If you’re not a fan, may I be so bold as to urge you to take a second look. Or not, that’s on you and you’re missing out if you don’t. We ask too much from our metal gods, but Goatwhore delivers time and time again and they’ve done that here despite the pressure and despite any naysayers. So this, for us, is an overwhelming amount of riches that all they ask in return is for us to just listen and enjoy it. I’ll be on the tip of that spear and hope to see you there.