‘Ego Svm Satana’ is the first full-length record in Goat Semen’s fifteen year career. Given the reputation that the Peruvians have built on the back of demos during this time and the ten year period building up to their debut, there is a justifiable sense of celebration surrounding it. Despite line-up difficulties and geographical/economic ones in their homeland, finally GS have a complete end product. Not only that, but the band also managed to enlist the help of Arthur Rizk for mixing duties, the man responsible for Inquisition’s abyssal last record. With a sound described as encompassing “the history of South American metal barbarity”, ‘Ego Svm Satana’ certainly fits this description and then some…
An intro consisting of feedback, screaming, demonic noises and chanting sets the tone before ‘Holocausto’ thrusts us into hell with frantically deviating riffs, pummeling drums and rabid vocals which recall, dare I say it, the mighty Angelcorpse circa their debut. And the parallels with that apex beast continue throughout the majority of tracks on here. ‘Genocidio’ initially deceives with a brief Maiden-esque glimpse until abruptly breaking out into another death/black/thrash maniac fest as hammering blasts rain down and widdly solos erupt from uncompromising riff work. Naturally the savage tempos and sound effects like those on ‘Warfare Noise’ suggest that GS are bent on the destruction of mankind and all its associated shit. But this is not your run-of-the-mill war mongering horde. For every hammering passage in which the riffs and drums lock together to devastating effect, there is an equal amount of nuance: from shifting rhythms to violent riffs and instances of relentless cymbal abuse. It’s simply inescapable.
‘Madre Muerte’ continues the descent into madness – Erick Neyra’s feral roar guiding us – but it also marks a shift in the album’s path. Towards the end of the track, we are confronted with a solitary guitar and chiming bell which stand out more than anything else so far heard. Especially cool is how the power chords start up again beyond this aside. From here though, the breadth of GS’s insanity is simply expanded upon. In ‘Hambre, Peste, Guerra y Muerte’ we get a ten-and-a-half minute epic: mainly burning doom riffs and a real evocation of the occult. It’s an unexpected change of pace which is well placed i.e. just before the full-on attack might have become a tad jading. Even when the track does get going, it’s not the all out assault of before; instead, it’s a more controlled form of barbarism which finds time for a weird bass break before getting us back on our bizarre journey. Likewise is the title track as riffs needle like the flames of hell and the vocal obscurity intensifies through similarly epic, mad swirling atmospheres.
And that’s how the album ends: in a haze of satanic vitriol. Overall, ‘Ego Svm Satana’ does encompass a lot of South American influence but there’s no higher compliment I can pay a band than mentioning them in the same breath as the Kansas stormgods. Those steel armoured riffs and blast-beats are as subtle as a brick, and I love it. But as pointed out – specifically in the latter part of the record – there is more to Goat Semen’s musical hatred than merely aspiring to clone one or more scene legends. As well as beating the listener to a psychological pulp, the material chops and changes so much that Goat Semen’s rancid mark drips through every nook and cranny.