Goatwhore
Vengeful Ascension (Spell Book Edition)

In 2006 I became a fan of Goatwhore’s blended blackened death metal when A Haunting Curse was released and I saw this Louisiana act live and they crushed.  Their sound was incredible and they were cool dudes as well.  In total Vengeful Ascension is the band’s 7th full-length album.  Their last album, in 2014, Constricting Rage of the Merciless was awesome and I especially loved the production and guitar tone.

Bur for one reason or another I am not feeling Vengeful Ascension like Goatwhore past releases.  For one the production is stripped down on this album.  Now that’s not to say it sounds horrible, but when compared to past releases, by the band, this production does not cut it.  The power of some of the tracks are taken away, due to the production having no real oomph.  My other issue is the song writing.  Goatwhore knows how to write killer songs with beautiful interwoven Celtic Frost moments, and while some of that greatness rears up, it’s few and far between on this.  I know the band takes time to write their music, but the memorability factor is out the window with a lot of this record.

Album opener, “Forsaken” starts with some cool drum beats and erupts into a brutal blast and Ben’s vocals sound great and the off-kilter blasting is well done.  Some of the mid-paced moments are truly incredible and Sam lets his lower register come in and murder you for a bit.  Very strong opener, but again the production is stripped down and the lethal an punishing guitar tone and bass heaviness is missing to make this song shine even more.  I love the opening of “Under the Flesh, Into the Soul”.  Beautiful old school death thrash beat.  Perfect.  The 3 minute mark has some perfect Celtic Frost like moments and this is one of the strongest Goatwhore songs.  “Chaos Arcane” is surely beautifully brutal and then pretty much a whole bunch of thrown together songs until the album closer-“Those Who Denied God’s Will” comes in and is the best song on the album.  I will give Goatwhore credit that they always open and close with super strong songs.  This track is evil, brutal and one of the deadliest tracks they band has ever written.  All along if the production was better it would have made this songs have so much more punch to them.  But the middle meat and potatoes section of the album are forgettable songs.

I did pick-up the Spell Book Edition and I gotta tell you, this at least ups the ante a bit.  This is the best packaging for any non-reissue album for 2017.  Remember the Evil Dead movies?  The inside artwork has drawings similar to what you see in the Necronomicon.  All written and drawn with illustrations, lyrics looking to be on blood drenched parchment paper.  It’s all housed in a long mediabook and is just fantastic.  There is a bonus second disc containing b-side versions from limited editions and unreleased live tracks.  The sound is excellent and we are treated with some cover songs as added bonuses.  The Celtic Frost “Into the Crypts of Rays” cover is quite fun, but for me Goatwhore’s rendition of Darkthrone’s “Under a Funeral Moon” is unreal.  Captures the original menacing evilness.

If you’re on the fence about this record, I would pick up this version, the bonus disc and spectacular packaging is well worth the extra skrilla.  For the full-length on Disc 1-Goatwhore can do a lot better, and while this does not stand up to their prior releases, at least some of the tracks still kick serious ass.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
November 27th, 2017

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