Goathammer Debuts with a Bestial Audial Landscape

Witchgoat, Goatwhore, Acid Goat… and now… Goathammer! Not to be confused with Deathhammer, these Canadian freaks have got you covered in terms of mystical blackened death metal musicality. Let’s see if this record is the Greatest Of All Time.

Saskatchewan… of all places to worship Satan. I mean, their CFL team is named the Roughriders, so the region probably has a history buried in tight white T-shirts and the act of acting intimidating. New petition: change the current Joan Jett stadium playlist and get with the times with our friends in Goathammer, it’ll lead to more blood being shed all over that plastic grass.

What the heck am I talking about. I don’t know. Do you?

I’ve been listening to this Goathammer debut trying to come up with paragraph subjects and a thesis statement, but I’ve just been writing about Joan Jett instead for some reason. This is obviously a symptom of a flawed release, and not judging skills.

In all seriousness, Ceremony of Morbid Destruction feels like a competent amalgamation of many different styles of extreme metal. I’m hearing some primitive black metal to the likes of Volahn, there’s a tinge of Brazilian Black (coining this term by the way), and even a bit of Bathory, say from his debut album, but perhaps a little more advanced. The individual bits and pieces of Goathammer’s debut are hard to define, which is a conundrum that inherently arises from the nature of the music.

Blackened death metal, albeit closer along the spectrum to straight black metal in Goathammer’s case, is probably the closest subgenre within the metal sphere to what the uninitiated would describe as simply “noise” (other than noise, of course). Thus I’m finding it hard to pick out things I approve of, things I disapprove of, and everything in between.

With the perpetual blast beats, guttural screaming, and the lo-fi production coating it all, there’s not too much variation within the music, its mostly all about the feel in these cases. I’ve always been more a fan of the thicker styles of metal whereby the presence of a vibe is sacrificed for variation within the sound. Take Darkthone for example, I could never get into their early output due to its harshness and its atmosphere-oriented drive, although I do appreciate what they were going for. However songs like “Quintessence” off of Panzerfaust did something for me, because there’s a bit more of an innate give-and-take to the music which keeps the listener entertained.

So I’ll apply the aforementioned statement to Ceremony of Morbid Destruction. Right off the bat, I enjoy what these guys are doing. You can tell that the song structures implemented on the release are strong, and that the quartet are all competent musicians. I personally feel like there’s not enough variation within the tunes, as I tend to lose focus in them from the 1:00 mark to about halfway through the track, as this is when some variation is usually injected.

The highlight of the album falls within “Arcane Destruction Spell,” the album-opener. The song is balanced, has a good beat to it, incorporates an interesting (albeit fairly typical) intro, and has a lot of moving parts to it. Furthermore, the band seems to have used a fairly similar riff within the closing portion of this song that matches the epic conclusion of the album, whereby “Sempiternal Holocaust” features the same riff with a marching drum section over it. These two sections, which are undoubtedly highlights, prove to me that this release really is well thought-out, as I mentioned earlier; its not just a jumbled mess of distortion.

Another particular theme I noticed was the group’s ability to create a sense of compounding progression within some of the release’s longer tracks. “Astral Crucifixion,” the lengthiest song at over eight minutes in length, breaks down into an incessant pounding of the drums, which lasts for a good few minutes, with various expansive riffs and lead guitar work which bubble under the surface. This notion ties in to what I mentioned earlier about the atmosphere, or the vibe if you will, surrounding this bestial music. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

There’s also this slower, breakdown-esque section on “Perverted Blasphemy,” which devolves into an ominous portion filled with ghostly chanting, church bells, and, well, perverted blasphemy, if you wan to call it that. This is a great musical moment.

I’ll conclude by stating that the quality of this release is high, however my personal tastes don’t lend to this particular subgenre, as my mind tends to float elsewhere during the more monotonous portions. The atmosphere produced on Ceremony of Morbid Destruction is a prime example of the possibilities allowed-for within the realm of black metal. For fans of Bathory’s first four, second-wave black metal, and goats. I’m feeling a light eight on this one. I bet this band would be killer to see live.

Verdict: 8/10

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