Goatwhore: Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Unrelentingly pummeling and brutally oppressive, Constricting Rage of the Merciless is a thrilling ride.


Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Label: Metal Blade
US Release Date: 2014-07-08
UK Release Date: 2014-07-07

Metal in general is not a genre for the meek. Thrash and speed metal, two of the myriad subgenres within the broader umbrella genre too enamored of subgenres, micro-genres, and general nit-picking, prove exhausting listening experiences as they race along at breakneck tempos, often on the very edge of control, careening along the edge of a blackened abyss. Frantic tempos and bleak, psychologically damaged lyrics are part and parcel when it comes to this kind of music and Goatwhore are clearly well-versed in both.

With their latest, the appropriately metal titled Constricting Rage of the Merciless, they’ve created a pummeling, brutally unrelenting slab of old-school speed and thrash metal, that, lacking the guitar pyrotechnics and fret board freak-outs of the genre’s original practitioners and some contemporary revivalists, focuses more on a viscerally oppressive approach that is absolutely crushing and thrilling in its sonic barbarity.

No one here is a virtuoso player with masterful control over their respective instrument a la the godfathers of the genre’s holy trinity. Throughout, the drums often feel as though they are a runaway train capable of speeding off the rails at any moment, no doubt providing ideal lyrical fodder with any and all resulting carnage. Instead of often distracting flash, the guitars employ a more workmanlike approach, speeding through chords and rudimentary riffs, virtually eschewing the customary breakneck solos associated with the genre altogether (only on "FBS" are there even hints of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s blitzkrieg approach to the instrument during a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it solo). Instead of racing through verses to get to the next solo, each track here affords ample room for alternately snarled and growled vocals that range from a strained yell to death metal’s requisite cookie-monster growl.

Throughout, tracks are beyond claustrophobic, driven far into the red and chocked full of driving guitars, aggressive double-bass drum pedal work and strangled, phlegmatic vocals that leave little room for anything else. It isn’t until the epic "Cold Earth Consumed In Dying Flesh" that any sort of respite from the onslaught is provided. And even that is fairly brief as the rather placid, funereal intro quickly gives way to chugging guitars and a throaty, inhuman growl that lasts far longer than one would think possible before descending into a fully unintelligible, throat-shredding grind. By song’s end, Goatwhore is speeding along at full throttle, dangerously careening on the edge of control with no signs of slowing down. It’s a harrowing, highly rewarding ride that, despite it’s length, never overstays its welcome thanks to its suite-like approach.

Featuring an insane tempo that feels as though it could spin completely out of control at any time, "Reanimated Sacrifice" finds Goatwhore channeling its inner Slayer, bludgeoning the listener with frantic picking and palm-muted guitar lines that would give any metal fan circa-1987 pause, a smile creeping across their long-haired face before the furiously rhythmic head-nodding took over. This is not music meant to be enjoyed as individual songs, but rather as part of a larger, more visceral listening experience that, despite its often redundant quality (individual track differentiation is damn near impossible) and oppressive nature, proves highly enjoyable, if ultimately exhausting clocking in at just under 40 minutes.

With barely any time to breath in between tracks, Constricting Rage Of The Merciless is a brutally bleak aural onslaught that will no doubt get metal heads pumping their fists and headbanging along with these pummeling anthems of chaos and despair. Clear heirs to the thrash metal throne, Goatwhore ably step up with this masterful slab of blacked metal and stake their claim as one of the best in the business circa-2014. One listen to the exhausting Constricting Rage of the Merciless would make theirs a hard case to refute.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.