There’s something special about the New Orleans, Louisiana metal scene. By the obvious Pantera association I was captivated by Down’s legendary debut, but it was a pivotal moment hanging out at a buddy’s place where I first heard the disturbed genre-bending brilliance of Acid Bath that my infatuation with the NOLA metal scene took off. Eventually this lead me to various other notable acts such as the brilliant Soilent Green and despairing sludge woes of Crowbar and Eyehategod. Some 20 years ago, several prominent scene members activated Goatwhore and a new beast and underground supergroup was born, most notably featuring Acid Bath/Crowbar axeslinger Sammy Duet and Soilent Green frontman Ben Falgoust. It took a while before Goatwhore perfected their blasphemous style of sludgy, death-infused black metal, striking pay-dirt with the back-to-back punch of 2006’s A Haunting Curse and 2009’s Carving Out the Eyes of God. Since then they’ve been treading water with a couple of solid but less engaging albums, lacking the staying power of their best work. Now Goatwhore return with their seventh album of horn-throwing fury, entitled Vengeful Ascension.

Musically Goatwhore traverses similar terrain to their past few albums, infusing their muscular black metal with punk, death, thrash and sludgy Southern metal, maintaining their trademark violent energy, musical potency and attitude. Robust opener “Forsaken” features a reliably powerful vocal from Falgoust, using his multi-toned growl to full effect, while the pounding drums hammer away underneath the rugged riffs and malevolent melodies of Duet’s guitar. It’s a fairly stock standard beginning, comfortably slipping you back into that fun and ferocious Goatwhore groove. A couple of solid songs blaze by, including the title track, which rides a sludgy, mid-paced groove, anchored by Duet’s infectious riffs and interesting harmonies. However, Vengeful Ascension doesn’t really kick into high gear until the aptly titled fourth track “Chaos Arcane” rips forth with reckless abandon, a thrashy blackened spitfire of tightly focused aggression and exhilarating speed that gives the album a shot in the arm.

Goatwhore remain reliable and consistent, breaking up the pacing with numerous fist-pumping grooves and a couple of doomy slower numbers like the aforementioned  title track and dialed back shift of “Where the Sun is Silent.” Unfortunately in the case of the latter the results are mixed as the song gets bogged down in its own sluggishness, despite some pleasing Southern sludge soul in the guitar-work. “Drowned in Rebirth” and “Abandon Indoctrination” pull no punches and are feisty speed-laden Goatwhore trademarks, familiar and aggressive. Even when considering the less remarkable aspects of the Goatwhore formula, they’re never less than entertaining, while Falgoust’s versatile range of growls, barks and deep chested rasps are first rate. Unlike the last album, Vengeful Ascension is well-paced throughout and several of the most engaging numbers pop-up during the latter stages of the album, such as the deathy, riff monster “Decayed Omen Reborn” and grim majesty of powerful closer “Those Who Denied Gods Will.”

The seasoned line-up all pull their weight well, with the rhythm section of drummer Zack Simmons and bassist James Harvey powering away with sledgehammer force and precision. Credit must go to Duet for another solid all round performance, confirming his status as one of the true warriors of the NOLA metal scene and an underrated guitarist at large. He’s particularly versatile without being an overly flashy or technical player, expertly pulling strands from various extreme metal genres and forging it into his own unique and distinctive style. And even when the songs aren’t at their most distinguishable, Duet’s catchy riffcraft provides consistently solid entertainment value, especially when complimented by the occasional old school shredding solo. His burly and infectious work on the wickedly savage “Mankind Will Have No Mercy” is particularly noteworthy. Vengeful Ascension is pulled together with a stout, reasonably dynamic production matched up with a suitably beefy guitar tone.

This is yet another enjoyable, catchy and barnstorming Goatwhore album, baring enough memorable riffs, raw savagery and variety to remain engaging across its efficient duration. Overall, the album is an improvement over Constricting the Rage of the Merciless and sits somewhere in the middle-to-upper tier of the band’s now extensive canon. Vengeful Ascension is an ideal soundtrack for engaging in mischievous mayhem or simply knocking back some brews with good company, and that folks, is what Goatwhore is all about.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 280 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 23rd, 2017

  • AndySynn

    “reliable and consistent” is about the best I can say about this one, which is slightly distressing, as this is probably the first Goatwhore album which hasn’t really excited me at all.

    • While listening to this album, I kept thinking to myself, “if I didn’t know this was a Goatwhore album I would’ve turned if off already.” I don’t know what it is but it’s just so meh.

  • AnnieK13

    This is a group that for some unknown reason I have always avoided…but listening to the embedded track, I kind of liked it. I couldn’t decipher much of the lyrics listening to it but maybe that is better. I’m thinking that I may just have to listen to the rest of this album. Thanks for the review.

  • rumour

    Well-considered review. Great line here:
    “Duet’s catchy riffcraft provides consistently solid entertainment value, especially when complimented by the occasional old school shredding solo.”

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    Last month I listened to A Haunting Curse, Carving Out the Eyes of God, Blood For the Master, and Constricting Rage of the Merciless. One right after the other. I came away thinking that “Carving Out…’ and “Constricting Rage…” are clearly their best two albums. Hoping the new one is on par with those.

  • Saw them live last month. They were pretty good and super fookin’ metal.

    • ScipioAemilianus

      They came to my town a year or so back for the Constricting Rage of the Merciless tour. Couldn’t have been nicer guys. Ben pulled me onstage at the end and took a picture with me and we talked about Misery Index’s The Killing Gods cause I had the shirt on. It was awesome, and they ripped that night.

    • Excentric_13073

      Yeah these guys are pretty cool, when I saw them Ben came out into the crowd after the set to hang out with fans… He’s awesome.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Huh. Just listening to Tempation’s Wings’ latest when I saw this. Sounds like a good follow-up.

  • junkyhead

    I was never a big fan of these guys. I like them but i never get back to most of their albums, but this one? Holy shit, some awesome stuff.

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Mehful Yawnsession

  • I could never drum up much excitement for these guys. Can’t pinpoint why. Even saw them live on the Summer Slaughter Tour a few years back.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I love Goatwhore. I feel like the songwriting on this record is much more consistent than it was on Constricting, but it’s high points aren’t as high. That being said, I enjoy basically everything the band does and will surely be spinning this record on and off for the rest of the year.

  • You wot m8?

    I don’t know…

    It sounds good, but there’s just other bands I’d rather spend my time on.

    • herrschobel

      same same … though they are a truly good and entertaining live act. Metal Galore ! AND stil. one of the most metal Names out there … very much like ”Burning Witch’