"A Haunting Curse"

(Metal Blade)

01. Wear These Scars of Testimony
02. Bloodletting Upon the Cloven Hoof
03. Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult
04. My Eyes Are the Spears of Chaos
05. In the Narrow Confines of Defilement
06. Forever Consumed Oblivion
07. A Haunting Curse…
08. Silence Marked By the Breaking of Bone
09. Diabolical Submergence of Rebirth
10. …Of Ashen Slumber
11. I Avenge Myself

RATING: 8/10

There's something manifestly wrong with any metalhead who doesn't bow down to GOATWHORE's charismatic, malevolent assault. These guys string the rotting skin of New Orleans' dark, mean underbelly onto the skeletal framework of early death and black metal — imagine HELLHAMMER if they could play their instruments, caked in swamp mud instead of corpsepaint, not so much writing songs as etching bone-basic manifests of hatred with acid onto the grooves of the record.

Anyone looking for keyboards, clean singing, or experimentation of any sort should look elsewhere. Ben Falgoust's commanding vocals are harsh, clear and right up front, while parts of varying tempos careen into each other, with blasts and thrash beats assaulting the listener in a never-ending wave. The occasional lurching slow part only serves to heighten the atmosphere, completing the smear of ugliness and adding a patina of nerve-scraping old-school doom. GOATWHORE are unsafe at any speed — check out the crushing beginning of "Silence Marked By the Breaking of Bone", where the double-kick-driven midtempo stomp is as unstoppable as a tank, before it slithers into a sinister slow dirge that'll raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

There aren't really hooks to speak of, as they're typically defined — no catchy choruses or standout riffs to inspire legions of air guitarists. But then again, the whole thing comes across as one big hook, the kind of record you put on from start to finish and just let consume you. GOATWHORE deal in intensity as their stock in trade, and "A Haunting Curse" never lets up — pure, primeval, angry and violent blackened metal birthed from the best old-school influences and lethally focused. It has a certain dark infectiousness that inspires more listens than is probably healthy!

The only enemy GOATWHORE has in the world, besides the minions of God, is its own past — it's hard to imagine anything ever topping their debut, "The Eclipse of Ages Into Black". But once you have that (and you do have that, right?), you're gonna want to mainline still more of their feverish bad trip. "A Haunting Curse" is one evil, ugly record, a truly harrowing audio experience, and it's doubtful any other band of mortals will be able to cram this much primitive vitriol into this little space anytime soon.


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