Friday, September 21, 2012

Goatwhore - Blood For the Master (2012)

When first diving into the world of Goatwhore, the most noticeable aspect is the unceasingly furious pace. Not in any sort of grinding, brutal way, but a sort of driving stomp that continues unabated like a dry desert wind. And the riffing reinforces this mental picture, dry and barren, cutting you with a stark beauty, quite similar to the more manic slabs from the legendary Celtic Frost. While the attack that Goatwhore provide is not nearly as dynamic or groundbreaking as their forefathers, I still feel like they are heirs to that throne in spirit (along with the fantastic Aura Noir), and Blood For The Master is another solid, skull-pounding reason as to why that is.

Blood for the Master, like all the output by these Louisiana black/death/thrashers, is single-minded in its mission, often to a fault, as it contains almost literally no variety, in either tone or pacing. However, this determined velocity is framed by a lot of very strong riffing, cutting along like a desert wind, and one can’t help but watch in satisfaction as Goatwhore conjure a dust storm and paint the entire countryside in their unmitigated fury. This is a showcase of panoramic guitar work at a brisk, thrashing pace, and so full-bodied and epic are some of these progressions of open chord notation that the album veritably cloaks itself in a bleak majesty. While some sections admittedly feel repetitive and slightly anemic, the entirety reveals itself to be a pretty impressive storm. Ben’s dry, rasping vocals cut through the swirling dust like some kind of skeletal wraith, perhaps once kingly, but now draped in disease, spitting fire and venom, rusting, pestilent sword firmly in hand.

The tireless, atonal tirade that is Blood for the Master can be a bit wearisome at times, despite a bevy of favorably epic riffing patterns, really requiring the right mood for its limited range to work its magic. Though to be fair, when the time is right, you can’t find much more fitting an attack. If you’re the kind of headbanger who eats up blackened thrash for breakfast, I can imagine this primal riff-beast will be immensely pleasing. It’s not always involving and memorable, and does very little that could be considered dynamic, but Goatwhore know how to write a riff (often one on top of another), and they know how to keep the energy up, and there’s definitely something to be said for that. Not to mention the conjured atmosphere, a real storm of death and plague if I’ve ever heard one, yet purveying a sense of dark nobility, of forlorn majesty.

For all its admitted strengths, though, this just doesn’t stick to my ribs. Certain riffing patterns stir my soul pretty epically, while others feel like chugging repetitions, and my attention waxes and wanes with this back-and-forth flow, lending an often confused perspective. To be fair, it never dips so low as to be in any way mediocre, but it’s just not consistent enough to be fully satisfying, or really all that memorable, though not for lack of effort. So, while I doubt this is the kind of thing I’ll be listening to all the time, it certainly has its place, and it’s unwavering enough in inherent, base-line quality that I will indeed keep it around, because sometimes a simple, carousing, heavy as fuck hybrid like this is just what the doctor ordered. Unwavering fans of the band and genre will not be disappointed, and can safely add 10 percent onto my score, but for everyone else, I’d suggest approaching with cautious optimism, as you might want to test the consistency of this blood before you plunk down your hard earned cash for a transfusion.

7.5 / 10 - A Furious Bloodletting