Since the black metal hayday of the early 1990’s, most black metal bands have split off into two camps(There are exceptions such as Immortal). There is either the new, modern, well-produced, death and progressive influnced black metal; or the necro, Bathory-esque, minmialistic black metal bands. As a result, the two major complaints about current black metal bands of extreme metal fans who hear both styles are that they either lack the depressing and gloomy atmoshpere that separates black metal from other genres, or they lack diversity and fail to distinguish themselves from the many other bands.
This album is the solution to these problems. It is an extremely diverse album, yet does not sacrifice the depressing, yet aggressive atmosphere prevalent on albums such as Under a Funeral Moon or Pure Holocaust. I have NEVER heard a black metal album that mixes these two traits so well(Immortal’s-ATHOW is an excellent album, but has a different type of atmosphere). This lies in many factors. One is the vocals. Ben Falgoust is an extremely talented black metal vocalist, who can switch from black, to death, to doom vocals all within the same song. His shrieks and low growls are convincing and placed well within each song. Furthermore, his actual singing has two traits that other bands lack. 1) It is good, unlike Attila from Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”. 2) It has a depressing and sad sound, and is not whiney or annoying, unlike Vortex of Dimmu Borgir.
Another great aspect of this album is the drumming. It goes from grind, to thrash, to death, to doom, and even throws in a rock beat on “Invert The Virgin.” This goes a long way in adding to the variety from song to song and helps carry the listener through the album without boredom. Likewise, the bass is well-placed, and sounds good when it comes to the forefront.
However, the best part of this album are the guitar riffs. Again, they are diverse, yet they add an extra dimension to Goatwhore by providing the gloomy atmosphere and separates Goatwhore from other genre-mixing black metal bands. There are so many good riffs that it is impossible to mention them all, so I will go over a few. For example, if anyone wants to know what a black metal riff is, have them listen to “Upon This Deathbed of Cold Fire.” From about the 1:30 mark on, you get what are, in my opinion early-Darkthrone/early-Immortal quality riffs. Yes, they are that good. Simple in structure, yet complex in their emotional structure, which is both depressing and angry. Then, there are great sludge riffs on “Invert The Virgin.” “Nocturnal Holocaust and Path To Apocalyptic Ruin” have tremendous death-metal type riffs, while “As The Reflection Slowly Faces” has great doom-metal riffs and note picking which is further emphasized by Falgoust’s tremendous vocals.
I could rave about this album forever. The production is crisp, yet not flat, and even the lyrics are better than typical balck metal bands. In short, it has a great deal of diversity, yet mixes it all together without eliminating the traits of any of its various styles(Unfortunately, their later album is guilty of this.) For black metal fans, or any extreme metal fans that enjoy diversity in their music, this is simply a must buy. Period.