New Orelans’ Goatwhore had everyone worried for a while. Usually the band is pretty consistent since their first album in 2000 at putting something out every 3 years or so, and staying consistent in their sound as well. Since 2017’s ‘Vengeful Ascension’ there hasn’t been much, and after 2021 listeners were beginning to wonder. Finally 2022 came along and here we have the new ‘Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven’ which is still blasphemous, fresh, and that good mix of Black Metal and Thrash with touches of Death Metal. One thing that listeners will notice is vocalist Louis Ben Falgoust II has been sliding more and more towards the Black Metal side of things with his vocals ever since 2006’s ‘A Haunting Curse’, and ‘Angels…’is no different in that progression. Goatwhore has always been a little more Black than Death Metal with their Thrash mix, but this album feels more like the most ‘Black Metal’ effort the band has done, which can be taken as good or bad depending on what side of the genre one likes to fall on. But expect that this effort, despite its long wait, is something a little different and fresh for Goatwhore which was needed. Ever since ‘Blood for the Master’ has hit it sounds like the band has rested on their laurels a bit, but not here.
Goatwhore has been known for opening with a bang, but instead it is a whisper with ‘Invocation 3,’ the first sign that the band is delving more for the atmospheric side of Black Metal. It is a sign of something different for once, something good. The band has seemed like they always wanted to be ‘balls to the wall’ heavy and aggressive or their last several albums, so this shift is a surprise. Then one gets hit in the face with ‘Born of Satan’s Flesh’ and that’s when one realizes it is still Goatwhore, still thrashy, but still blackened at the same time with a few fresh melodies here and there. The drumming from Zack Simmons is downright furious all the way through alongside the guitar work Sammy Duet who also lends his vocals here and there, and even they sound more Black Metal and less Death Metal/thrashy inspired. One thing that stands out between the guitars and drumming on this album for Goatwhore is the atmosphere created, especially on a track like the title track. Goatwhore usually likes to go for the speed thrashy groove numbers, so for a near melodic black metal tinged with some thrash elements piece is something that a lot of fans might be unprepared for, but it works. It also allows the new bassist Trans Am to be more audible versus being lost in the mix. There are a lot heavier, faster numbers on the album though, and those looking for an excellent piece of Blackened Thrash from the ‘Vengeful Ascension’ days will really enjoy ‘Ruinous Liturgy,’ but even a track like this has its mid paced melodic groove sections and blasphemous lyrics. Goatwhore has really amped up the blasphemy here for their lyrical content, whereas in the past they sort of rode the line on the anti-Christian themes, or were at least obscure about it.
Like any Goatwhore album, a lot of the music is consistent in its style, with pieces like ‘The Devil’s Warlords’ sounding a bit too much like the track before it or one of the earlier ones, with some predictability in the riffs, but that is only real pitfall of the album. ‘And I Was Delivered…’ closes the album on the most atmospheric track that Goatwhore has done, and with the backing keyboards it suits the album perfectly. One heard a bit of this slower, atmospheric approach back on ‘Carving Out the Eyes of God’ in 2009, but it was more of a preview, whereas here it is fully fleshed out and baring teeth. Hopefully Goatwhore will continue to go in this more atmospheric direction in the future and deliver fresh new sounds while keeping that evil, core sound that is filthy, but not quite sludge filthy. While some of the slower pieces may not quite sit well with listeners who feel every track needs to be a fire cracker of a pit starter (and anyone who has seen Goatwhore live knows how much they love their pits), these little differentiations will keep listeners coming back for more as it helps ‘Angels…’ be a defining chapter in the bands’ career. It isn’t mid 2000s Goatwhore anymore where ‘A Haunting Curse’ was the defining album and every one since them has been some replication of it on the thrashy side, it’s a new 2022 Goatwhore and the world had better be ready for it. Definitely a Blackened Thrash masterpiece that any metal fan in general should hear.