Goatwhore - _Carving Out the Eyes of God_
(Metal Blade Records, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (
Over the course of my six and a half year tenure here at CoC, I've participated in my fair share of raging debates, and unsurprisingly these grow especially fierce around January of each year, when each of us are putting together our year best lists. One such discussion that still sticks in the mind took place between myself and former Chronicles scribe Todd DePalma two years ago, when I was asked to explain my goggle-eyed fervour for Goatwhore's _A Haunting Curse_. My answer then was that the record simply captured every single one of the core values that had attracted me to metal in the first place.These days, I still hold a very similar opinion of that disc. In fact, it rarely sees out a week where it's not played to excess in either the Smit family war-wagon or on the iPod during my commute to and from work. There's an irresistible and thoroughly convincing sense of rebellion and danger about it, which never grows old -- the complete antithesis to the myriad faux-melodic fiascos that make up at least half of what passes for modern metal these days. And so -- in my mind at least -- there really is no getting around it: _A Haunting Curse_ raised the bar to heights which most bands would falter in bettering. Yet somehow, this New Orleans collective has managed to produce a record that not only handily tops its predecessor, but have managed to unearth a few extra creative gears in the process as well. Early speculation would suggest that this may be due, at least in part, to the fact that _Carving Out the Eyes of God_ was put together under decidedly more favourable circumstances. _A Haunting Curse_ came about against ongoing backdrop of destruction in the form of Hurricane Katrina, which took a considerable personal toll on each of the quartet's members. Not only that, but it was also recorded under the notoriously demanding glare of Hate Eternal's Eric Rutan.Here the band seems markedly more relaxed and a whole helluva lot more confident. Their new material is heavier, thunderously brutal -- an affectionate and sincere tribute to the old school that has so vividly influenced them, with enough twists thrown in along the way to call the material their own. At several points on the album, they hark back to the septic black metal sludge of _Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun_, whilst elsewhere plumes of blasting cacophony segue beautifully into prime mosh-pit fodder.Still, this isn't a rehash of former glories; in some cases it may be a re-tooling, but the thrust is definitely one of forward momentum. The fact that "To Mourn and Forever Wander Through Forgotten Doorways" closes out the album with perhaps the band's most sinister, exhilarating track to date suggests that _Carving Out the Eyes of God_ could be the gateway into something even more spectacular. As for the question about whether Goatwhore will go two for two in my Top 10 albums of the year, 2009 has certainly been a stellar year for metal, but it will take something truly phenomenal over the next six months to unseat this opus from the place of prominence it currently occupies on my personal playlist.
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