Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blood for the Master - Goatwhore - 2012

What strikes you right away - quite literally - is Blood for the Master's immediacy. There's no atmospheric instrumental, no crescendoing deathly howl. Just a full-on pummeling right out of the gate. It's a shock to the system, a sprint with no warm-up. With their latest release Goatwhore have found a way to remind this reviewer of how heavy metal is supposed to affect the listener. This isn't sit-back-in-an-overstuffed-chair-and-contemplate-with-a-pipe music. This is wake-up-bound-and-gagged-in-the-trunk-of-an-unfamiliar-car-racing-toward-imminent-evisceration-unless-you-escape-now music. Mount the wings of death, exhort Goatwhore and you had damn well better comply.

I cannot claim to be a Goatwhore aficionado. I owned Carving Out the Eyes of God and, prior to the release of Blood for the Master, nothing else. I was never that taken with their 2009 release, for whatever reason, but a recent live experience convinced me that I needed to pay closer attention to the band. Tracking down Blood for the Master in an actual record store, I took advantage of the inventory and also grabbed Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun and hope to get a handle on their backcatalogue this spring; Blood for the Master is so good, it demands it.

Back to the record at hand. It's oversimplifying, to be sure, but it's a no-frills, black thrash blueprint for basic heavy metal. There are very few, if any, gimmicks or artsy effects and, looking back on the band live, one can easily imagine how well these songs will translate from the studio to the stage and, if anything, increase in power. While the sound is certainly different, it is easy for this listener to draw parallels with the aesthetic of Motörhead. Riff after riff after riff after riff, some good, old-fashioned soloing from Sammy Duet, and back to the bludgeoning. Keep it short and sweet (ten tracks in under 40 minutes) and simple. If there's a negative aspect to Blood for the Master it may be those same parallels. It's a massive, gut-punching experience that is brief, bright and gone. Hell, yes, it demands a replay (and another and another...) but feels more like a slice of an ongoing metal continuum as opposed to a defined album proper, with beginning, end and all the traditional highs and lows in between.

Blood for the Master's drawbacks, if that's what they must be called, are also what set it apart and, really, make it a noteworthy release, in my opinion. If it were a movie, you'd feel as if you stepped in mid-story and then lost power before you know how it ends. You're stuck with a fearsome second act, evil abounds and the world is, literally, going to Hell. It's a jarring experience in the best possible way - and enough so to compel me not only to dig back into the band's records to figure out how this all began but to also stay tuned to see how it all ends.

1 comment:

  1. Gotta get this. Goatwhore's A Haunting Curse was the first death metal album I bought by myself back in '06, so they're kinda sentimental to me. I find the cover art to the new one wonderfully controversial.