Goatwhore

A Haunting Curse

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Black metal isn't an exclusively European phenomenon, but it is a largely European phenomenon. Ask a group of black metal enthusiasts to list their favorite bands, and chances are that a lot of European names will pop up -- mostly Scandinavian, although England (home of Cradle of Filth), Italy, Holland, and Eastern Europe have all had their share of black metal activity. Goatwhore, however, is an example of an American black metal band, and A Haunting Curse underscores the fact that the Louisiana unit is the opposite of symphonic black metal. In Europe, symphonic black metal bands that emerged in the '90s or 2000s have favored a more melodic and nuanced style that owes a lot to the intricacy of power metal and, in some cases, even progressive rock; there are some symphonic black metal bands that can honestly claim Pink Floyd and Yes as major influences. But Goatwhore has a much nastier, harsher, more primal vision of black metal -- one that is mindful of the rawness of early black metal and remembers its punk, thrash, and hardcore roots. Don't expect any sweet, lilting melodies on A Haunting Curse; this is caustic stuff, and Goatwhore takes pleasure in going for the jugular. At times, this 2006 recording detours into death metal territory; sometimes, Ben Galgoust's black metal rasp turns into a death metal growl -- and clearly, this is a band that hasn't forgotten about American death metal (specifically, the death metal bands that came out of Florida in the late '80s and early '90s -- before Scandinavia dominated the death metal scene). A Haunting Curse is neither remarkable nor groundbreaking, but it offers a decent and worthwhile dose of sensory assault to those who like their black metal with a made-in-the-USA appeal.

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