Over the past fifteen years, and an incredible amount of frequent flyer points – New Orleans iconoclasts Goatwhore have yet again harvested a cult of maniacal fanfare. Blood for the Master is the latest menace from the brutish four piece and conveyed with a poetic, near occultish grace. Metal As Fuck growls good morning to vocalist Louis Falgoust to chat about secret Black Metal handshakes, attention spans (SQUIRREL!) and the labyrinth of mood.... Blood for The Master.
The latest album sounds absolutely menacing, was it planned to be released on Valentine’s Day? I ask with a giggle “Er no [laughs] no set plan to have that happen it sort of just fell on that day, yes its strange [laughs] but hey why not show love for one another by getting your significant other a heavy metal album”. [Laughs] That’s the best gift ever, we both agree.
So the band; not fans of the 9 minute epic at all, why do you like the songs to be quick and to the point? “Well we are traditional metal you know, I guess we have never considered ourselves epic like Iron Maiden, we have never really tested ourselves to write a really long epic, I don’t think we have the ability to hold attention for that long honestly [laughs] The music of Goatwhore is extreme you know so we like to keep it short and sweet so it impacts more, so it has more pull on the listener. Like I remember growing up when all my Slayer tunes were on tape, you know – it played one side, it was destructive and chaotic and straight to the point, the tape would end and you jump around yelling ‘turn it over let’s do it all again!’ [Laughs] We like to keep to the extreme metal standard in that effect.
What was your anticipation writing the new record? What did you want to achieve with Blood for the Master? “We work better when we don’t put any unnecessary weight on ourselves prior to release, we like to keep ourselves fresh so everything comes into perspective naturally. We have like a bunch of tapes with tones of riffs that Sammy [Duet – Guitars/vocals] has written (some even written before the first release of Goatwhore) and we go through them; see what fits, what doesn’t. No restrictions apply to this method, you know we want to advance of course but at the same time we don’t stress ourselves with the anticipation of the new record being better than the last one. So I guess the anticipation of this record was not to think about the anticipation”. [Laughs]
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the new album? “Um I think adding a little more writing structure this time around, like The music of Goatwhore isn’t groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination – some might say otherwise but we like to write traditionally you know and still keep our influences like Judas Priest ever relevant, we feel we have evolved more as musicians this time around and I think noticing your weak points and your strong points give you the advantage when writing”.
The song titles; When Steel Meets Bone, Death to the Architects of Heaven – outstanding, almost a story in themselves – how are they conjured up? “There are a lot of lyrics I play around with, deep personal thoughts, fictitious and or factual things I’ve read, religious structures – you know I just roll the lyrics out and the song title is sort of formed around that when I know what the story is behind the song, what it represents – I like to play around with variations of words looking for that right moment when you know the song is ready to be named”.
Well getting back to the song When Steel Meets Bone – hands down the creepiest song title ever. The song was actually made into a music video – do you enjoy making the clips? “Yeah we had a lot of fun with it, we worked with David Brodsky – he has done previous Goatwhore clips and he is such a great guy to work with, it’s always an adventure with Dave. You know previous clips have taken us days to film but When Steel Meets Bone was shot in like several hours. We had some crazy ideas for the video but we could only shoot what the budget could afford you know and I think we all did really well with it, we can’t make videos for all the songs, we’d love to but we just don’t have the budget for multiple videos”.
Goatwhore are very much now their own breed, slipping further away from your original influences and taking its own shape and sound. How can you say the music has evolved since the last release, knowing this? “I think between both the current record and the last (Carving Out The Eyes of God) we have enlisted a new member to the band – James [Harvey – Bass] and the writing process of the members has gotten tighter, the relationships between band members are getting tighter. You know like Sammy & Zack [Simmons – Drums] work incredibly well together; drummers have such a large role in the song writing process you know especially in metal bands, they can bring that riff to the right point and the writing squad; Sammy & Zack have made the music of Goatwhore more refined, tighter, put that with James’ angle and input and the music just comes together as a unit even to the point where the guys are so considerate to the music and evolution of Goatwhore to step up and say something if a particular riff or pattern sounds similar to something we have already done, like the dynamic of the group is just great”.
What are your thoughts on the black metal genre? What inspired you to head down this path with music? “I was always in to this type of music as a kid, like Celtic Frost and Venom, Bathory and Exodus you know but I also like heaps of various styles. Sometimes any black metal band regardless of origin is always compared to the Norwegian bands, that’s cool you know I mean the Norwegian black metal bands are a force to be reckoned with but it’s also fucked because there is so much elitism that you’re either overlooked for being black metal by the ‘non’ black metal fans or you’re not black metal enough, so on one hand your music is pigeonholed to a certain style and the other; since you aren’t from Scandinavia you’re the outcast, its fucked”. Well all bands are defined by a genre – regardless if it’s accurate or not, it’s something bands can’t escape – so Goatwhore defined as black metal/thrash metal; two of the longest standing genres of metal. What in your opinion has given these two genres such a strong hold on history and influence to this day? “It’s the extremity of it all. The ways bands have taken the step to keep the music going. It evolves and keeps going. Like you listen or read any heavy metal music in the world right now and all will have influences dating back to thrash or black. Like I was watching this documentary the other day that was just this topic – how these two styles of metal have spawned it all from both a metal and hardcore perspective and when I say hardcore I mean actual hardcore like Agnostic Front and it just highlighted the crossover between metal and hardcore, I mean wow, could there be any genres of metal? Shit”. Yeah don’t forget the sub-genres I grunt. “You know the outlook is different for all styles of course but it has all generated from here”.
There is always such seriousness to black metal, do you try to avoid this or endorse it? “Well we are serious as a band but we are also a bunch of jokesters. There is like this rule book on how to be black metal, I mean fuck – music shouldn’t have any rules, it’s not regimented. There are kids these days that say to me ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ like what the hell, music is expression it’s the only thing in life that has no rules. Rule book my ass”. Yeah I think there is also some secret hand shake for the elite of the elite black metallers. [Laughs] “Yeah there would be something ‘homo’ like that”.
So that band since inception has challenged God’s legitimacy and authority. Is this still something the band is genuinely passionate about? “Yeah, maybe not so much now than when we first began but I personally have a problem with organized religion, even after all the facts have been documented. You know it just bothers me and I am spiteful in my music and lyrics because of this. I don’t care if you are religious just don’t force it on to me or any other person and don’t utilize it as a way to oppress people”.
Well wrapping it up Mr Falgoust – 2012, what plans are in place for touring the new album? I know you guys are fiends for touring. “Yeah we love to tour, we have done plenty of touring already, we want to slim down the touring in the States for a while, get out a bit, and we have toured the states so many times recently, you know like we had a stretch with Lock Up, Hate Eternal, Dying Fetus…. So at the moment we are home for a month, yeah a month I think then we head over to Europe with 3 Inches of Blood in May, then Australia in July – we can’t wait, the last time we were there was with Behemoth and Job For A Cowboy, it was great – and this time we are headlining so we are heaps excited, we aren’t sure how the shows will go as the venues I think are smaller but I like smaller venues you know, it’s a much more intimate show. After Australia we head back to the States for the Summer Slaughter, it’s going to be a great year for Goatwhore”.