Goatwhore Morphs Hopelessness Into Breakneck Metal

Goatwhore is more evil than your average band.
Goatwhore is more evil than your average band. Courtesy Stephanie Cabral
Goatwhore guitarist Sammy Duet’s chipper attitude about returning to playing live music belies the breakneck riffs he releases as the driving force behind one of the gnarliest blackened death metal bands ever.

“For a while, nobody was sure what was going to happen; the future was very uncertain. But we utilized that time to write as much as we possibly could because nobody could tour. It feels fantastic to be back doing what we do,” he says, adding that he has a newfound appreciation for the live setting after the unexpected break. “When something that you love is taken away from you just so abruptly, it definitely makes you appreciate it more that it’s given back to you.”

As befits a band named Goatwhore, the New Orleans outfit has been dealing demonic destruction for the past 25 years like no band before or since. Taking advantage of the time away from the road to write and work on new material has resulted in the band's upcoming release, Angels Hung From the Arches of Heaven — an album that Duet feels is Goatwhore’s most complete, and darkest, record to date.

“There’s always something on the record that [makes you think,] 'If I would have only had a month more to finish writing this song, I could have made it that much more better,'" he explains. “We had already started writing for this record before the pandemic hit, so we had a good chunk done before lockdown started. It just gave us that time to sit down and be meticulous about the songs. We had never really had an opportunity to do that before because we’re always on tour, and we need to hurry up and put out a record so we can go back out on tour. There was always something that I was never 100 percent happy with. But this new record, I could definitely say that I’m completely ecstatic about how everything came out.”

Goatwhore is playing its new single, “Born of Satan’s Flesh,” on the band’s current co-headlining run with Incantation. The Vile Ascension Tour stops at the Bluebird Theater on Saturday, August 13. Bewitcher and Caveman Cult are providing support.

Goatwhore’s music is rife with anti-Christian lyrics and imagery, including a popular, if not infamous, shirt that displays one of the band’s best lines — “Fucked by Satan” — across the back of it. So when Duet shares that he and his bandmates aimed to make the new record more merciless than previous releases, it causes one to pause and wonder just how much more unforgiving these dudes can get.

“I definitely wanted to make this record darker. ... I wouldn’t say [previous albums] weren’t dark, but I found this one definitely has the black-metal influence showing more than past records. I wanted to bring that more to the forefront,” he explains of the musical gumbo he’s concocted over the years, playing in other bands that were brutal in their own right, such as Acid Bath and Crowbar.

“There was a lot of personal stuff rather than actual musical influence," Duet says of the new album. "It was a really dark time for everybody, [which] played in a lot of songs when we were writing them. That vibe of hopelessness. It was a very uncertain future. I think that came through on the songs that have that hopeless feeling to them, but not really sounding like a doom band. There was a very bleak influence that was going on in our heads at that time. Being locked up for two years will fuck with your head."

Already the sound of pestilence and plague, Angels Hung From the Arches of Heaven (out October 7 on Metal Blade Records) is a fitting pandemic album in all its face-melting glory, found in songs such as “Ruinous Liturgy” and “Voracious Blood Fixation.”

At this point, is it even possible for the band to continue exploring more nefarious regions?

“This is what we love doing. It’s always trying to get darker and heavier and more evil. It’s basically to see how far we can push ourselves in that direction,” Duet explains. “I hope there is no finish line. I hope there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There are always avenues to be explored, as far as that goes. When you start repeating yourself, that’s when you’re giving up, in my opinion. I want to constantly advance forward in that direction, in trying to push ourselves to see how far we can get in going darker and more evil and heavier.”

But since being unleashed back onto stages across the world, the live setting is the most wicked way to experience Goatwhore, he adds.

“Expect to get pummeled by a lot of very dark heavy metal. If you want to listen to perfection, you listen to the record. If you want to have a good time, you come to the show. There’s definitely a different energy when we play live compared to our records,” he concludes.

Goatwhore, 7 p.m. Saturday, August 13, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue; tickets are $20.50-$24.50.
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