Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven

Metal Blade
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Invocation 3
02. Born Of Satan's Flesh
03. The Bestowal Of Abomination
04. Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven
05. Death From Above
06. Ruinous Liturgy
07. Victory Is The Lightning Of Destruction
08. Voracious Blood Fixation
09. The Devil's Warlords
10. Weight Of A Soulless Heart
11. Nihil
12. And I Was Delivered From The Wound Of Perdition

It's hard to believe that GOATWHORE has been doling out its evil hymns for a quarter century. The unit is poised to release the follow-up to 2017's banger "Vengeance Ascending", closing the longest gap between its albums. "Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven", album number eight, is GOATWHORE's first release to include longtime touring bassist Robert "TA" Coleman, and proves to be the band's most diverse, epic and savage release all at once — an impressive feat for any band this deep into its career.

GOATWHORE has always cross-pollinated a variety of styles and subgenres, most notably death metal, black metal, thrash metal and sludge. The quartet continues to draw from its expansive palette here, this time brushing its canvas to create songs that are much more diverse and dramatic both in terms of sound and theme. While some bands are content with peddling Satanic tropes and cliches for shock value on one end, and others are of the pseudo-intellectual "coffee shop hipster" variety on the other in a way that has nothing to do with the spirit of black metal, GOATWHORE has always utilized Satanic archetypes to convey thoughtful perspectives that can be universally appreciated, or at least understood. With "Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven" — regarding the album title, anyway — frontman Ben Falgoust addresses the broader notion of personal struggle and how one may deal with exceptionally downtrodden points on a subtextual level while the content is presented on the surface via esoteric concepts and biblical references.

Following "Invocation 3", a foreboding and cinematic intro that entails electronic sounds and seemingly occult-like murmurs, "Born Of Satan's Flesh" bursts in a frenzy of Sammy Duet's riffs that tap the vein of classic Floridian death metal, backed by the solid rhythm section of TA and drummer Zack Simmons. It's clear that the band paid close attention to the album's sequencing, as there's a sense of ebb and flow between the tracks, highlighting a variety of elements like aggression, melody and tempo via contrast. The nightmarish, haunting guitar melodies set the stage on "The Bestowal Of Abomination", over which Sammy's scathing vocals fill the gaps between Ben's militant commands. Midway through the song, as Ben has done so for years, he throws in a line that will stick in one's mind during dramatic transition points, as he almost whispers, "God has no power."

"Death From Above" takes things up a notch going straight for the jugular with a blackened death thrash attack that's incredibly hard-hitting but with a barrage that's digestible and memorable. The track derives inspiration from a crew of female WW2-era Soviet bombers who employed a technique of idling their engines while approaching their targets limiting sound to wind noises, gliding along in a manner that German soldiers compared to the sound of broomsticks; hence the nicknaming of their foes as "Nachthexen," translating to Night Witches. "Death From Above" is a full-frontal assault during its first half; however, similar to the aforementioned stealth aerial military tactic, GOATWHORE slows the latter half of the song to a relatively more lurching and menacing pace prior to an explosive uptempo shift.

There's simply so much enjoyable musical fat to chew upon throughout the entirety of "Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven". Just consider blistering tracks toward the album's back-end like "Voracious Blood Fixation" and "The Devil's Warlords" that showcase some of GOATWHORE's best, off-kilter, savage riffs ever. It truly is all killer with no filler, a result partially rendered due to producer, and GOATWHORE live soundman, Jarrett Pritchard (EXHUMED, 1349) pushed the band's members to obtain their best possible performances. GOATWHORE clearly intended for the album's experience to be appreciated holistically, including the visual tie-in of the cover art, as longtime collaborator Jordan Barlow's created sigils that augment the sense of mystery and esotericism. Whatever the future may hold for GOATWHORE, "Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven" proves that the band is at the top of its game, and that it has much more to offer.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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