The Eclipse of Ages into Black
Despite the exceptions of Profantica and Havohej in the early ’90s or Judas Iscariot and Summon in more recent times, America has rarely been known for good and true black metal. Goatwhore’s debut, the characteristically black-metal (hence, clumsily titled) The Eclipse of Ages into Black, could be the record to change all that.
Whereas most of their domestic contemporaries re-thrash a slew of old Morbid Angel riffs, slap on the bullet belts and spiked armbands, and crap out an indecipherable logo, Goatwhore focus on what truly makes black metal what it is: raw, necro atmosphere unaided by pseudo-goth keyboards. Granted, the Louisiana quintet ravages away to blast-beaten tempos and L. Ben F. II’s vocals snarl and screech as interchangeably as any other black-metal frontman’s, but there’s a certain charisma that propels The Eclipse of Ages into Black above the disposable genericism most American bands in the genre settle for. Call it class (the album’s stark, simple cover is exactly that – no ’92-nostalgia worship here) or call it something else, there’s just no discounting a band who wastes no time in finding a worthy idea, spending the right amount of time there, and then stops, no questions asked.
Though shades of Norway’s past (namely Darkthrone; “Under a Dark God” would’ve found a fitting home on Under a Funeral Moon while the chugging breakdown on “Commanding the Legions of Hell” recall those of A Blaze in the Northern Sky) which incrementally crop up here and there, Goatwhore lend a distinctly American brutality – at times, recalling prime Deicide – to the proceedings, thereby making The Eclipse of Ages into Black a quiet triumph. Now, if only more of our blackened hordes would heed this call, this country’s black-metal scene could approach something closer to respectability than goofy idol worship.
Rotten Records, P.O. Box 2157, Montclair, CA 91763; http://www.rottenrecords.com