Rage and FrustrationExtreme Music Reviews & Interviews
Goatwhore – Vengeful Ascension (Review and Interview)
Band – Goatwhore
Album – Vengeful Ascension
Country of Origin – USA
Genre – Blackened Death Metal
Release Date – June 23rd, 2017
Label – Metal Blade Records
Author – Deranged D
Goatwhore was formed in 1997, by Acid Bath/Crowbar guitarist Sammy Duet, in the swamplands of New Orleans. They released their first demo in 1998 and then another in 2000. After some serious and almost fatal accidents within the band, they release their full length album Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun. After finally regaining full control of his legs lead singer Ben Falgoust returned to the band and they hit the road hard. In 2005, the band had to flee from Hurricane Katrina, delaying their first Metal Blade Records release until 2006. The wait proved to be well worth it, as A Haunting Curse, proved to be a brutal masterpiece. Then, in 2009 they followed it up with another monster of an album in Carving Out the Eyes of God. After a couple years of grueling tours, they released another full length beast, Blood for the Master. 2014 brought Constricting Rage of the Merciless, which just kept their sound rolling and paved the way for the future of the band.
Now, after 20 years of making music and dealing havoc among the world of metal fans, 2017 brings the epic release of Vengeful Ascension. This is their 7th full length album, and 2nd reel-to-reel. Once again, the record is releases by Metal Blade. It was recorded at Earth Analog in Tolono, Illinois, though they broke a four album tradition of working with producer Erik Duran to work with long time sound man Jarrett Pritchard to capture more of their their live performance sound.
This ten track beast of an album grasps listeners immediately, not letting go until the conclusion of the album and well after you’ve received the intended concussions. Vengeful Ascension bridges 20 years of the bands work for a culmination and manifestation of War, Chaos, desolation and emotional conflict. The story loosely revolves itself around Luciferic spirit and notions, although here he is not an all destroying, fiendish demon, but an emancipator or a guiding light. The album also shows a theme of his struggles and transcendence, portraying Lucifer as an “anti-hero” in this case. “He’s cast out from this place in Heaven to the depths of nothing. He keeps trying to ascend to the top again but no matter what, there’s always this significant force trying to destroy him at any point and banish him back to Hell. If you look at it from an everyday aspect in life, it’s the idea of people, hitting the bottom of the barrel or you know, things just aren’t going right in life… emotion plays a huge part in how people react. Whether it’s based on love or hatred or sadness or whatever, there’s always an aspect of emotion that drives people to an extent,” says Falgoust about lyrical content.
Radical booming and thunderous bass are accompanied by decimating and precise drums for a intense rhythm section. That paves ways for thick and brutal, yet precise guitar riffs that seriously melt face, and never let up. The screaming death metal vocals are this amazing commanding roar and thoroughly enunciated explosive growls. Every song is a representation of Goatwhore and what they’ve done in the past, showing their vast evolution as a band over this 20 years.
Recommendation: If you like anything they’ve put out before this is right in point. If you haven’t listened to them and love death metal this album is definitely down your alley.
Interview with Ben Falgoust of Goatwhore
Deranged D: How’s the tour going right now?
Ben: It’s going great man, everything is moving along nicely. No issues, playing a lot of good shows, a lot of heavy metal.
DD: What’s it like being on the road with Amon Amarth?
Ben: It’s great, it’s not even our first time ever touring with them. It goes back, we’ve toured with them like three or four times in the past. I remember the first tour we ever did was back in like 2003, It was called Art of Noise 2. It was a tour we did back then. It had Nile and Kreator. We were first and Amon Amarth was second on a 5 band package. So it goes back a ways with different things we’ve done. We did Sounds of the Underground one year and they were a part of it, with Skelotenwitch. And here we are now with just us and Amon Amarth, and everything has been going good, the guys are great, we get along with all of them. And we have a little past, so it’s good.
DD: I hear they’re quite the partiers..
Ben: Yeah they are, but they’re very professional too. The music and everything comes first, and the partying comes afterwards. They’re not gonna get into this madness two hours before they play and then try to go on stage, it’s a gradual thing, and then when everything is finished all the chaos erupts.
DD: So, how did you guys all meet and start?
Ben: It stems back a ways, Sammy was in Acid Bath, it kinda started with him and the original drummer of Goatwhore Zack Nolan, and they used to do this kinda necro/grind band that they had, and they called it Killgore. They added some members, things changed, and there was a moment where the singer left Goatwhore too, and Sammy was doing lead vocals and guitar, and he got into a kinda bar brawl, in Baton Rouge, and he got his jaw broken. And at the time I was into the same elements of things that they were doing, and I reached out to them and offered to help out until everything was cool, then once everything healed, they we just kinda left everything in place. And we’ve been doing it ever since. We’ve had some member shifts here and there. It’s like any other band, we’ve been through our cycles of members and situations and turmoil. I’m not gonna say it’s the easiest thing in the world, it’s fun but you do have impacts of people, personas and things like that. You get on the road and there’s a lot of things that are revealed and some people just don’t fall into place the way the touring cycle goes. Everyone has their ideas of what bands are like on tour, but when you get into the extreme metal element, there’s a lot of grit and dirt involved, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that. You have things that change along the way.
DD: It’s gotta be like a constantly moving machine…
Ben: Yeah, I mean it is, and it isn’t. A lot of people don’t believe this, but we do have downtime., Not necessarily down times. that’s when we sit down and kinda focus on the writing and putting all those things together. When a record comes out and we just start touring relentlessly on it, we just keep our stuff in spots and keep it aside until there’s time to focus on it. When we’re home and away from the road is when we can really start to focus on how we put those things together, laying things out and digging in deep with it. And then we record and everything kinda repeats itself. With every record it brings some different element to the tour, newer material, new stuff to put into the set, we have a total of seven records out and we have a big catalog to pull from and make different kinds of set-lists and stuff like that, which is really unique.
DD: How did you guys come up with the name Goatwhore, and what does it mean to you?
Ben: The originality of the name came from a drunken night out at a strip club with some friends. And there’s always the element of the friend that’s highly obnoxious, and he does some crazy shit, and it was this strip club in fuckin’ Bumfuck, Louisiana. The stripper had her hair in like pigtails, and she had this really long…uhh I don’t wanna say ugly…but unique face, and after her dance she came around to the guys to try and do lap dances or whatever, and the one friend that gets a little boisterous when he drinks, he kinda jumped up and knocked some chairs over and he yelled “Stay away from me, you goat whore!” and the name kinda stuck in with it after that. I guess there is different elements, when you start a band, there’s things there you didn’t really think of, that were just this fun element, Not saying that later on it isn’t fun, but later on you get more involved and thinking about things you’re writing about, lyrical wise, and what you’re doing musical wise, and you kinda throw things all over the place, because you’re younger and you have some immature aspects about yourself, and you’re amateurish about some things with music and things like that, so that’s how the name just kinda fell into place and sits.
DD: Sometimes it just kinda happens…
Ben: Yeah, I mean at least it wasn’t a stupid fuckin’ name. I mean some people do think “ What kinda name is this for a band?” But, it falls into place now, perfectly. I guess in a way it was just kinda luck, maybe our friend has the ability to see the future, and see something that’s relevant to us now.
DD: Tell me about some of your biggest personal influences…
Ben: It’s different variations as far as influences go. I have a lot of influence from like Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury, not necessarily on a vocal level. I can’t even sing like that. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but I don’t have that element in my style and that ability. But, I do take in that influence as how they are performers and everything they did vocal wise and laying out lyrics within songs, those things have influenced me through growing up being involved with that music and stuff like that, because of their performing. Even someone like David Lee Roth, he was a performer, the way he was on stage and everything, that’s an element as well. Earlier when I was growing up I was really into like Lee Dorian and when he went on to Cathedral. I definitely don’t have a one single thing that influences me because when I grew up there was a lot of different heavy metal and extreme metal, and even punk stuff, hardcore when I was growing up. All those things have an influence, whether you know it or you don’t there’s some kind of influence in there that is built upon things that grow and come full circle and come back into the mix. What people don’t understand is there’s so many different things over time and different types of music. That’s what I mean with full circle, there’s things you grew on up and then come back to after time passes and you see or hear a different aspect of it and that influences you in that fashion as well. So there’s things you know are an influence, and some that are subconscious. Some people will say, “So, you’re from New Orleans, how does that influence you?” I don’t think there’s anything I can directly say that influenced me from New Orleans. Except you grow up around that scene, with what the music is like there, more things influence you on a subconscious level.
DD: So, do you have any other big shows you want fans to know about?
Ben: We’re doing a small West Coast tour into Western Canada and comes back home, Us with a band from Vancouver called Ancients. After that we have some things, but, I can’t say anything yet about it. I know in September we have something that’s really fuckin cool, as far as things go. I’m not allowed to say anything about it right now. But it’s definitely a really cool tour that we’re gonna come out with that’s gonna be fuckin awesome. After that I’m sure some more things are gonna pop up. We’re trying to work on something for Europe. It’ll all unfold. Sometimes you don’t even know a tour until a month beforehand, and then some tours, like the one coming in September, everything has already been booked and laid out and everything, just waiting to be released.
DD: Tell me a bit about the journey and evolution of Goatwhore and how it feels to be here now…
Ben: I have to say for one, I’ve always had these past interviews where they ask “what’s your opinion, which one’s your favorite one?” And I don’t like to break it down like that, I think they’re all a part of the growth, and they represent each and everyone of us as individuals, at certain times, when we were doing it. And it has aspects of how we’ve evolved as musicians, how we’ve evolved as individuals, how we’ve evolved as a band, and how we continue to evolve. And I think every aspect of that is very unique. If you look at our first record, you can see how much more of a young inexperienced band being the first record, you do have that impact as kind of inexperienced. And you’re still learning, and even now putting out our seventh record, and being around for 20 years, there’s still things we learn, there’s still things we come across, there’s still unique stuff that we can do as far as our abilities, in an evolution process, becoming better as a band and as musicians. Early on it was more of that constant party sense. I mean there’s still a constant party in a way, but I think we have it a little more controlled now, and we know what we really have to focus on and do. When we were younger we were just like do it and no thought put into it, and sometimes spur of the moment shit like that is fuckin awesome, but then sometimes you need to stop and have a serious level and put things into perspective and get an idea of what you wanna do as a band. When we started we were heavily influenced by Celtic Frost & Venom and things like that. And you can hear it in the earlier stuff abundantly. Now through time as we’ve evolved, those influences morphed into what Goatwhore is, the sound of Goatwhore. It’s all this whole evolution process, this whole cycle. We still kinda do things the same way as far as how we write stuff, but there’s just a little bit more experience involved now and a little more thought put behind everything.
DD: So, is there any band that you haven’t opened for that you would love to open for, like a dream opening slot?
Ben: I’d say Slayer, Judas Priest. It’s pretty cool, I don’t think a lot of bands can say this, but we’ve played and opened for a lot of bands that we’re definitely heavily influenced by. We opened for Celtic Frost, we opened for Venom, we’ve done Ozzfest and Halford played. Like Goatwhore, Slayer, Judas Priest, that would be a dream for sure. I’d love to do a tour with Testament. We’ve never really played with them. On like a smaller scale too, we’d like to play with like Midnight or something like that.
DD: What was your first concert?
Ben: My first concert was, pretty sure it was…Motley Crue Shout At the Devil. And also when I was younger I went to a lot of VFW hall shows, they don’t do that much anymore. I saw Agnostic Front at a VFW hall. I saw COC at like a VFW hall. When I was younger arena shows were like a HUGE thing. Most shows I saw were at VFW halls for sure or small crappy bars. And they had all the local bands too, so there was a lot going on for me when I was younger.
DD: What are a couple of your favorite places to play other than at home?
Ben: Every city is unique in its own way, every fan is as well. They all react differently. My personal favorite is playing smaller places, in your face, for me that’s my favorite stuff. Everything is cut loose and everyone is feeding off of each other. Sometimes the stage isn’t even a foot tall in places like that, so there’s people like falling into the monitors and shit. And it’s different in some places because there’s some places that just aren’t a dominate metal scene, where others are. So you’ll have that variants of an audience. That’s why you see tours where they skip cities a lot. Because some bands are on a level and they don’t have that scene to provide for that kinda band coming through. That’s why in between we like to play all these smaller places and play in front of kids that don’t regularly get to see extreme metal shows.
DD: Were there any big changes in the recording process this time around?
Ben: I mean we went to a different studio, and we had a different producer and engineer. For the last four records we had Erik Rutan and we went to his studio in St Petersburg, Florida. This time we decided to do something a bit different, take a different approach. It wasn’t anything bad. Everything we did with Rutan was fuckin awesome. Every now and then you need to step out of the box, get out of the comfort zone, and try something a little different. A lot of the guys wanted to try something different. We did it reel-to-reel, like the last record. We went to a studio in Tolono, Illinois call Earth Analog. The studio is awesome, it has like living quarters and stuff like that, every couple days we’d get groceries, stock up on stuff and just stay there,. There was a little bar we’d hang at afterwards. I think we needed the change though, you need change every now and then. Also we had our friend Jarrett Pritchard, he’s our live sound guy, he produced this record. We had the element of him knowing how we play as a live band, and try an capture that within a studio recording. He’s familiar with us, he knows what we are. So having that in the studio as well was also a bonus.
DD: Where did you get your writing inspiration for this new material, and what’s the biggest message that you want fans to receive from this new album?
Ben: As far as the music goes, we don’t throw anything away from the past, we still have riffs from the first record that just never got used. We don’t believe that just because a riff doesn’t get used on one record that it’s not any good. It’s just that sometimes it just doesn’t fit at that point in time. We’ve brought riffs that we’ve had for a long time into the perspective of a newer record and that riff brought everything together. Some songs we write in a couple days, some take a couple weeks depending on what we’re doing. Some songs we put together and we tear them apart and use all the parts from that one song and make all these other songs, depending on how we feel about it. Overall I think how we’re doing it is pretty much the same, but the ability to create and put together songs has definitely evolved, as we’ve grown as a band. As far as lyrics, a lot of stuff is based off of old literature like Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno. So I blend a bit of everything into it. I definitely don’t like to solidify a message, I like it to be perceived as art and let the listener kinda choose what they feel it means to them. The idea of Vengeful Ascension is like the Paradise Lost thing, the whole Lucifer cast to hell, and he’s working his way back up from the pit, trying to reach the pinnacle again. That aspect goes into human nature as well. Working your way out of that abyss or dark place you went to, you see things in they help you reach this higher ascension. I’m not a preacher. I’m not trying to preach to people and tell them what to believe in. I have my own beliefs. Some of my lyrics are serious and some not so much, that’s the way I think it has to be. Sometimes you need to be serious, sometimes you just need to have a good fuckin time. I write the lyrics accordingly to the vibe of the song.
DD: In a business where metal gets snubbed a lot, what is your ultimate goal as a musician and how do you want to try and leave your mark?
Ben: I always just wanted to tour, there’s always more places to tour, we’ve never been to Asia, or South America, we need to go back to Japan, and we need to do a lot more in Europe, there’s a lot of those things that still need to go through. Today I’m kinda just bringing the flag along, the scene keeps going, the metal will never die, bands will just keep coming, the underground will always be there, forward thinking and advancing things. I just the want the band I’m in to influence people in a way to keep that banner going and keep playing metal. It doesn’t matter what the mainstream does. If they wanna snub us and try to put us away, it’s always gonna be here and it’s always gonna have its ups and its downs, but it doesn’t matter because there’s always gonna be people that enjoy it. And it’s a shame people don’t want it around, because it’s vital. Metal is like the rebellion within music, it’s never gonna go anywhere, it might be stifled sometimes and people might try to hush it, but it will always be this thing they’ll never be able to get rid of.
DD: What’s the best place to find music, info, merch, tour dates, and all that from Goatwhore?
It’s not that extensive with details, it has tour dates, it has links to Metal Blade Records, and Itunes to purchase digital music, links to the web stores, links to all the social media stuff. Pretty much anything you might be looking for.
DD: Final message to the fans?
Ben: Yeah, I don’t really care if people download. Kids only have so much money. Not just kids really. All of us only have so much money to spend, especially on a new record. There’s tons of great records coming out every month, and for people to think these fans are gonna go out and buy every one is fucking absurd. But in the same sentence, I want people to understand if you do it, and you like what a band is doing, then go to a show, show your support, buy a ticket, buy the merch, help them out in that way. Just make sure if you’re really into them you support them in that fashion. I love this thing Bandcamp, great way to support new and upcoming bands. It’s a great idea, fuckin awesome. Any extra can help a band to make new music for the fans. The amount of likes you get doesn’t really show what support you’re getting. If every person that gave you a like donated 50 cents it would help out in so many ways past the not selling records. It’s fuckin insane.
DD: Well, thank you for your time, on behalf of Moshpit Nation we all look forward to seeing you on the road.
Ben: Yes sir and thank you very much.