It’s hardly a surprise that when you give Goatwhore vocalist Louis Benjamin Falgoust II a call for a phone interview, he’s somewhere on the road, getting ready for a show. The fact is, Goatwhore tours and tours and tours, especially over the course of the last few years since Metal Blade signed the New Orleans band, as the label has taken full advantage of the band’s willingness to play anywhere and everywhere across North America.
You get these ubiquitous supporting bands in the metal circuit, the non-headliners that tour heavily and always end up returning to your city opening for a different band each time. Some instantly have you rolling your eyes at the thought of ever seeing again (coughDevildrivercough), but then there’s a band like Goatwhore, whose likeable, blue collar approach to the classic sound of black metal’s first wave is something you never get sick of, and whose growing fanbase from all the constant touring sees them poised to have a very big 2009.
“We get enjoyment out of playing the smaller markets, way smaller than the secondary or tri-area market,” says the friendly, outgoing Falgoust, on the horn from Monroe, Louisiana, where Goatwhore is doing a series of local weekend shows as a warm-up to the major touring cycle that’s about to kick off this summer. “It’s still fun. Those people don’t get things usually, they have to travel somewhere. People in Shreveport would have to travel to Dallas, Texas, and that’s like three hours for them to see a major tour that’s coming through the US.
So it’s cool to go play smaller markets because you expand your fanbase a little bit more because you’re actually going out of your way to go to these smaller markets that you usually wouldn’t go to. There’s just something about it, because the people are so hungry for it because they never get it. People are just genuine, too, in that kind of situation.”
Trust these guys to always remember to honor their Southern roots: founding guitarist Sammy Duet played a prominent role with ‘90s Louisiana sludge legends Acid Bath and did some time with NOLA’s beloved Crowbar, while Falgoust, in addition to his work with Goatwhore, has been the lead vocalist for mainstays Soilent Green since 1993. However, instead of mining the kudzu-thick, sludgy doom riffs and lugubrious tempos that have been plied by everyone from Eyehategod to Down, Goatwhore has focused on European black metal from the band’s inception, specifically the genre’s early progenitors in Bathory, Celtic Frost, and Venom.
It wasn’t until their third album, 2006’s metal Blade debut A Haunting Curse, though, that people started to take notice, Duet making significant advancements in the songwriting department, new members Nathan Bergeron (bass) and young drumming phenom Zack Simmons adding some much needed stability, and producer Erik Rutan adding his usual expertise.
The band’s newest, though, is a major step forward. The summer of 2009 is set to be a huge time for noteworthy metal releases, but for all the hype and expectations other bands will be on the receiving end of, you will not find a record as immediately satisfying as the deliciously blasphemous Carving Out the Eyes of God. Classicist to the core, Falgoust and his mates don’t set out to reinvent the wheel whatsoever; in fact, this album’s Celtic Frost influences could not be more obvious (right down to Falgoust’s punctuations of, “Ooh!”, a la Tom Fischer).
But one listen to Duet’s masterful riffing on such bruising tracks as “Apocalyptic Havoc” and “The All-Destroying” is enough to send the most fussy metal aficionado into paroxysms of headbanging ecstasy. In a way, it’s 2009’s version of last year’s Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth: a joyous, rampaging example of the classic metal aesthetic at its absolute purest. In other words, if you like metal, there’s absolutely no way you’re going dislike this.
“We wanted to bring more of the black ‘n’ roll, kind of add that in a little more,” Falgoust says. “More like where ‘Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult’ came from, more punk tempo-oriented things. That was a big thing. During the writing structure of that record, me and Sammy and the other members of the band went and saw the Metal Masters tour with Judas Priest, Motörhead and all that, we’re big Motörhead fans and big Priest fans. So with this record, Sammy said once, ‘It’s light on the black, heavy on the metal,’ so we’re kind of going back to the old-school roots even more so with things, and not being more modern with everything.
“A Haunting Curse was more focused on the speed, it had more speed-oriented blastbeats and stuff,” he adds. “We’ve always been a band that’s been based off of Celtic Frost. It’s one of the hugest influences for this band. If you go back to all the earlier stuff, you can always pick out some kind of Celtic Frost style riff or something like that. But I think with this record, too, we opened up a little more to our roots. We’re a little older, I won’t say our ages or anything [laughs], but we kind of went back to our early days, of Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory, even the crust punk stuff like Doom and Discharge, bands like that. Even to the edge of thrash metal.”