GoatThe NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) scene has been positively thriving this year, with new offerings from Down, Crowbar, Eyehategod and now Goatwhore have joined the takeover with their sixth slice of groovy filth “Constricting Rage Of The Merciless”.

For those who are not familiar with Goatwhore, firstly I feel sorry for you and you should catch up immediately, secondly it’s worth noting that they are a hard band to pin down.

As far as genre goes, they incorporate elements of black, death, sludge, thrash and good old fashioned heavy metal all into one sound, so attaching a genre to them is difficult. The band themselves simply list themselves as “Metal” which is fair, but for me personally I can only really compare them to Impaled Nazarene in terms of style, If you like IN then you will like this.

This album very much picks up where 2012’s Blood For The Master left off, coming straight at you with big riffs and pummelling drums, and kicking up dust with the signature groove that the fans know and love.

With the exception of a couple of more atmospheric moments in the odd song, there is not much to mark the tracks apart enough for me in terms of quality to pick any real favourite tracks on it, that’s not a criticism, I just love them all equally, and it is very much an album I enjoy listening to straight through rather than flicking through tracks.

The big improvement here over previous efforts is the production. Once again produced by Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) but there is a big difference here, all the drums, bass and rhythm guitars were tracked on analogue 2inch tape.

This old school approach gives the sound a much more powerful and authentic feel than any of the previous efforts, in particular the drum sound is massively improved and gives the songs a real punch, and also this method speaks volumes about the talent of the band, for recording this way is a relentless process that allows for no mistakes whatsoever, yet the playing all sounds air tight, which has earned them massive respect from me personally. It really gives them the feel of a band who have sculpted their sound to perfection via extensive live performances, which is something you don’t see enough of these days in metal.

With not a dull moment on the album and and a refined sound, this is Goatwhore at the top of their game, the entire album has been crafted to allow any of these songs to make their way into the live set and they are all of a high enough standard that any or all of them would be a welcome addition.

Essential for long time fans and newcomers alike.

(9/10 Mark Gleed)