Aside the obvious band name that immediately will turn any new fan of Metal’s head in curiosity, Goatwhore also carry with them an impressive discography of material up to this point. As the years went on, the group clearly honed their style of modern and first generation Black Metal sound, along with some Death Metal influence, into an infectiously sinister offering. After the success of their fourth full-length, Carving Out the Eyes of God gave us their tightest performance yet, it was clear their next effort was going to be another solid offering unless they somehow horribly screwed it up, or the production wound up ruining it. Blood for the Master marks their fifth album, but does this album prove that there really can be too much of a good thing?
While Goatwhore hasn’t necessarily screwed this effort up musically, it definitely doesn’t offer anything much to go too nuts over. First of all the production here clearly is modern, but not really too crisp thanks to what feels like a filthy layer of sludge over the material, and no not the good kind or the style of the same name. The audio makes the music just sound restrained, as if it were a car straining to click into the next gear but for some reason just can’t. The guitar distortion just sounds a little to loud and restrained, having a higher pitch but not as sharp as it should be, which causes it end up losing some of its bite. The performances themselves, however, are rather impressive, which makes this more of a shame. The bass is here, but it just feels like a tone that backs the guitar with very little impact to the music outside being there and taking up space. It honestly does nothing thanks to the higher pitch of the audio, but you can pick it up in the mix that would be great if it just didn’t sound worthless from the quality outside some of the certain deeper bridges like at the end of “Parasitic Scriptures of the Sacred World.” The drumming is pretty good though, but also suffers the same fate. The cymbals are pretty loud, the snares come off thick, and the bass kicks have a rather deep thud to them that offers up the same kind of deeper impact the bass guitar offers, which is very little. Finally you get the vocals that are alright, and perhaps the cleanest of the band’s elements, but the gutturals feel a little lost amid the guitar riffs, and that sludgy layer over the final product’s sound also makes them sound held back despite clearly having an energetic performance behind them.
And with all that said, there’s still more to point out negatively about the album. This isn’t really as bad as the audio quality, but it does test the limits of how much you liked the last album, that is if you enjoyed it. Blood for the Master is basically like listening to the last album, which is not exactly what I meant when I said the album needed more songs like “Apocalyptic Havoc” in my Carving Out the Eyes of God review. The second “Collapse in Eternal Worth” kicks in, you’ll find it an all too familiar place that you won’t really feel an urge to head bang against your will too thanks to how the audio just rips the bite of the music away. This isn’t to say this song or any others are bad though. Infact, this song is really enjoyable for what it is. It starts off more in a brutal manner that caters towards a bit of a Death Metal push with some guttural vocals utilized, and through a nice transition the track picks up into some catchy early Black Metal woven with a modern intensity. The speed picks up as well, which really helps some of the tighter chords being performed in sticking to the listener, and from this sudden shift the foundation of the release changes. “When Steel and Bone Meet” throws the listener right back into “Apocalyptic Havoc” with how similar it sounds here, especially in the main verses and even the bridges, though the chorus itself does feel somewhat unique for this track.
That about sums up most of the album actually. There are still a decent number of songs that feel diverse from the first three, and really offer up an interesting experience. “In Deathless Tradition” is a good example with it’s more commanding first generation Black Metal approach, having what comes off more like heavy NWOBHM riffs here and there, especially at the start. It also feels a little more emotional and darker, as well as heavier thanks to its slower pace allowing the guitars and bass to not blend together as much thanks to the quality. Of all the songs, this is the first to really grab the listener in more than just well executed guitar work and a tight performance like many other songs, and it can lead to a good deal of head banging as well. This slower pace does carry over into “Embodiment of this Bitter Chaos,” and again it’s a different experience compared to the catchier mid-tempo to faster tracks offered.
Thankfully that’s not all that sticks out on the album, and there are some faster tracks here that seem like a throwback to their last release, but done well enough to have their own identities. “Beyond the Spell of Discontent,” however, is one of the few songs that really feels like it captures the spirit of their big single well, but with a slightly fresh take. And given the songs that come before it, you’ll be ready to tackle the song and find your head banging to the catchy riffs that boast a good deal of intensity. “Death to the Archiects of Heaven” is another song that stands out well amid that kind of chaos, and it’s slightly slower pace really causes the music to just sound better despite that grimy, restrictive layer that exists.