Dripping savagery and gnashing bared teeth, that can only mean one thing… Goatwhore‘s back! For those not familiar with the piss and vinegar thrashing of Blood for the Master or going back a little further the Satanic ritual of The Eclipse of Ages Into Black, Goatwhore are a stewey blackened death “project” with an all American, New Orleans twist that borrows not only members, but also the subtle influence of metal veterans Crowbar, Acid Bath, Soilent Green and Nachtmystium. Will Goatwhore‘s Constricting Rage of the Merciless unleash hell, fury and damnation as promised? And lifting the bar ever higher, will the album wage war of a variety that we’ve not yet had from Goatwhore?
“Poisonous Existence In Reawakening” opens up the album a little like that unfortunate meeting with a wood chipper in Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Picture chunks of meat, bone and globs of blood-splatter cannoning full force onto your new band shirt and you have an idea of the blasting repetitive fury that’s destined to pound away aggressively at your eardrums. I wish I could say this track is something new and so exciting it’s going to make your toes curl up, but outside of Ben Falgoust’s Soilent Green inspired vocal dexterity, switching between low barking growls and hoarse yells, the track and the large majority that follow are merely what one expects will bolt from the Goatwhore stable.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, Constricting Rage of the Merciless has three highly-charged redeeming qualities that make the album feel necessary. “Baring Teeth for Revolt” and “FBS” both lock their thrashy teeth into you in the same way as “When Steel And Bone Meet” off Blood for the Master. Though the style isn’t new to Goatwhore, it’s a healthy, growing breath of fresh air in all the inky monotonous darkness of the rest of the album and like the neighbours damn cat that keeps turning up in your kitchen at meal times, it’s tough to put them out out of your mind once they’ve broken in.
“Cold Earth Consumed In Dying Flesh” ended up the pièce de résistance on Constricting Rage of the Merciless! The track not only embodies the dark, pessimistic atmosphere of Eudaimony‘s Futile, but with doomed determination adds Crowbar flavoured slow, low-keyed broodiness with Soilent Green growling fuzzy rhythms, aggression to the maximum and occasional fast tempos. The track becomes an addictive, cloying assemblage of everything that Goatwhore are made up of and the experience is only heightened with the natural warm hiss and powerful tone of Erik Rutan’s (Florida based Mana Recording Studios) analogue recording process used on the drums, bass and rhythm guitars.
Much like it’s predecessors A Haunting Curse, Serenades to the Tides of Blood and Blood for the Master, Constricting Rage of the Merciless is packed with top-notch instrumentation and peppered with schizophrenic madness of the Sewn Mouth Shut variety. This is an action packed album that indeed unleashes all kinds of hell, fury and damnation. Bear in mind though it’s neatly wrapped up in last year’s birthday paper, with a well used bow cinching it all together.