Monday, December 15, 2014

#12 of my Top 12 Albums of 2014: Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Goatwhore's Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Label: Metal Blade
Genre: Blackened Death Metal, Thrash-Death

     I am going to start off by listing one the heaviest albums that you will find on my Top Albums from this year.  For those of you that don't know me or don't know my musical tastes as well as you think, I tend not to listen to music that is exceedingly heavy to the point that I can hardly tell if the lyrics are in English or Swahili.  Even the music I listen to that actually is in other languages tends to be more melodic in nature when compared to a lot of Death Metal acts, so I normally enjoy that a lot more than music that actually is in my vernacular.  That is not to say that I did not enjoy a lot of heavier acts, on the contrary there were a plethora of albums released this year that were incredibly heavy and very, very good, including the highly-praised albums from Job For A Cowboy, Dark Fortress and Behemoth, which are admittedly astonishing.  Now, if I like those albums so much, then why is Goatwhore on my list instead of them? Well let's dive straight in and find out.

     Now, Goatwhore is not a very... appealing... name, particularly for those that are only slightly into metal or don't even like metal to start with. For those people, honestly, this may not really change your mind on the topic, this kind of Death metal is only really for those that can sit down and enjoy this kind of head-pounding, blood-quenching musical venture.  However, for those that can sit through a really heavy metal track and feel okay about it and haven't already dived into this genre, I highly suggest this album as an introduction into the world of Death Metal.  The reason for this is two-fold. For one, Goatwhore, despite their very aggressive-sounding and somewhat hilariously metal name, are not exactly as heavy as you would expect.  In fact, a lot of "true" Death Metal fans do not listen to Goatwhore for this very reason, claiming that they are not nearly as heavy as they suggest, leaving these Death Metal Purists alienated because it is notes heavy as they want and metal rookies also alienated because of the connotation of "Goatwhore".  To this, I saw hosh-posh!  This album is plenty heavy, so stick a fork in it.  I, as said previously, only listen to really heavy Death Metal in pieces and tend to stick toward Melodic Death Metal, but I found myself right at home here.  This brings me to my second point of why you should listen to this album: it is FUN.

"Baring Teeth For Revolt"

     From here on I will stop talking about Goatwhore like I have been listening to them for years, because I have not.  This is my first time picking up one of their albums and actually listening to it all the way through despite this being their sixth album since their formation in the late 1990's.   What I do know about them, or at least I do now, is that they are a bundle of thrashing fun, hence my listing of them also as Thrash-Death in the description above.  They bring the fist-pumping energy of classic thrash bands but in a heavier tone, giving me a strong vibe of Testament, yet heavier, particularly with the vocals.  Every time I turn on one of these songs, my head just involuntarily starts nodding excessively, and if I am near someone else at the time, I am very tempted to just start an impromptu mosh pit, no matter where I am.  The above video, "Baring Teeth For Revolt," is one of the singles off of Constricting Rage of the Merciless, and is also the first Goatwhore song I really listened to, which is part of why it is the first song I showcased.  It starts off like your standard thrash song, building up from an infectious guitar hook and cymbals to an all-out blast of sound which never quits.  The energy never really goes away, however it constantly feels like the song keep growing and getting bigger and heavier, prompting you to grab that dial (if you're old like me and still listen through technology that has dials on it) and spin it until the speakers are about to blast you through the wall.  That is the volume this music is intended to be listened to as, just like most metal, the louder, the better.  This is a great revolution and destruction album, and I imagine serves its use perfectly in concert, as not a single soul would be sitting still when this song plays.

     For Goatwhore, there is no such thing as a break, as the entire album is just as consistently hard and boisterous as "Baring Teeth For Revolt".  Their one volume setting is 11 and they hit that with every track, which is both an appraisal and a complaint of mine, as I really enjoy music with high octane levels of energy, but at the same time such consistent explosiveness can et very tiring, or for some, boring after extended periods of time.  You may start to long for a slower track, or at least something to mix up the groove they've set here but you'll be disappointed in your search because there is no breaks until the album is over.  Now as I said, this is a completely objective complaint, as I do tend to enjoy constant energy in the music I listen to but for those that want more of a complete listening experience, this complaint could arise when listening.  For this reason, the album ranks a little lower on my list, though know that I went through about 50 albums that came out this year that I deemed "Good-Great", so being at number 12 still means I love this album anyway.  There is one slight break in the album, "Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Pain", which also wins the award for Most Optimistic Sounding Song Title of 2014, that starts off slower but dives into more Doom Metal territory before returning to fast Death Metal near the 2/3 mark.  Not much of a change of pace, but enough to be noted.

"Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed"

     Overall though, the album is very good in terms of the sound, which is what brought me to them.  In terms of lyrics, they could be singing about Teletubbies for all I care, but when you look them up, assuming you don't have a very good ear for understanding Death Metal lyrics by sound, you'll find either songs about more depressing themes or those about beating other people's faces in in rage, or something in between, which is not anything too surprising for this type of music.  If you really want to learn the lyrics, then have at it, but, despite my preference for music with more interesting lyrics, I am quite content with just banging my head to the sick tunes Goatwhore cranks out. Overall, great job guys, this is a fantastic album and one that is currently making me go back through your entire catalog. Here's to hoping the rest of your albums are as solid as this one, or better! Cheers!


Click here for Goatwhore's official website.
Click here for Goatwhore's official Facebook page.
Click here to buy Constricting Rage of the Merciless from iTunes.
Click here to buy Constricting Rage of the Merciless from Amazon.

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