Goatwhore: Live Review
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
May 26th 2010, The Blvd, Los Angeles CA: There is never a dull moment as a metal head living in this city. When Sodom cancelled their US tour dates a week back, I was terribly upset to say the least. Their Los Angeles show was supposed to take place tonight at the House of Blues. But the cancellation of that gig only meant that I finally got a great chance to catch Goatwhore perform a headline show here at the Blvd cafe & bar and I gleefully grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I absolutely loved this venue when I saw a show here for the first time last month and was very happy to be back. To be able to see Goatwhore in such an intimate setting had the potential to be a night of unmatched excitement and intensity, and I can safely say that it lived up to that.
Another reason why I love the Blvd is it's very convenient for me to get to, by taking a short and sweet 10-minute bus ride, not having to worry about the horrendous LA traffic. I got there at around 7.30 and went to the merchandise table to introduce myself to frontman Benjamin Falgoust, telling him that I'm the interviewer he was waiting for. My cameraman Ray got to the venue at close to 8 o' clock and we were all set to begin the interview. We did it on the sidewalk just outside the Blvd but it was nice and quiet at that time. I had a lot of fun doing this interview. Ben turned out to be a really well spoken guy and it was very interesting listening to his answers.
We talked about music all the way through, and not about tacos, the weather or halloween, so I was glad that we still managed to keep it interesting for the viewers. I was also glad to be able to state my opinion on Bruce Dickinson in public once again, calling him the current number 1 vocalist. It was great to get Ben's views on it. He chose Bruce and Rob Halford jointly as his number 1. This interview proved to me yet again that musicians can be intelligent people if they want to be. I notice this more commonly among extreme metal musicians. May be this style of music has something to do with it. We thanked Ben for the interview as he parted with us to go back to the merch table. Ray wasn't staying for the show so I thanked him for coming out to do this interview and went inside. I am really enjoying doing these video interviews as I am quite sure that anyone who checks out my interviews would prefer video to audio or text. Touchwood, I hope Ray continues to support me in this endeavour. Right. On to the show then.
I was shocked by the lack of people inside. There were hardly even 30 people at 9 o' clock, with Goatwhore scheduled to hit the stage at 9.45. The number didn't go up much further even during Goatwhore's set. Quite frankly, I was angered at this because this really does not reflect on the band's reputation and the quality of their musicianship. The show cost just 10 dollars to get in, and 8 if you bought it online. Street parking was free. The band's label Metal Blade were nice enough to put me on the guest list but even if they hadn't, I would have gladly paid the 10 bucks, as I did for the Toxic Holocaust show at the same venue last month. Funnily enough, that show was on a weeknight as well, and it was so packed that people were falling over on the stage. Honestly, if I had to pick one of these two bands, I would go with Goatwhore any day.
Despite the ridiculously small crowd, the band assembled their gear together. I took my front-row centre spot in anticipation of a killer show. They opened the show with 'The All-Destroying', and we were in head banging mode already. This was from their latest album 'Carving Out The Eyes Of God', which is one of the best albums to have come out last year and it was heartening to see them promote it extensively on this headlining run of shows. All Destroying isn't quite the best song of the album but it was the kind that set the foundation for the rest of the night. It was actually a good thing that they didn't start with the best song because then the remainder of the set wouldn't have lived up to it. That song was to come much later.
They continued belting out furious tunes from the new album, the next one being 'This Passing Into The Power Of Demons'. The speed and intensity of the head bangers went up ten fold during this one. I've been to plenty of venues where they don't have a barricade and the crowd is right up against the stage. But this was just epic. Not only were we up to the stage, the stage itself was barely a foot above the floor. As a result, the band was literally in our faces the entire time and we were loving every moment of it. They played 'Provoking The Ritual Of Death' next, the third new song in a row. I would say these first three songs were in perfect order, going from a fast first song, to a faster second and a slow, enjoyable third one. The slow, 'wind mill' kind of head banging is what I personally enjoy more as it's less stressful on the neck while being as much fun as the faster variety.
It was back to the fast and furious with the next song though, 'In The Narrow Confines of Defilement' from the previous album 'Haunting Curse'. This is a song that has 'thrashy' elements and changes tempo a couple of times, making it a great live song. They returned to the Carving album to play the title song after this. The riffs in the middle portion of this song were simply amazing, making us shout with sheer excitement. If this song doesn't get you to do the windmill, nothing will. The set was brutally amazing so far. To the fans' delight, they brought out a song from the debut album next called 'Nocturnal Holocaust'. While the previous couple of songs in the set were more intricate, this one could be called old school extreme thrash, and it was a nice way to change things up, albeit for a song less than two minutes in duration.
They played a couple more songs from the Haunting Curse album, the ever-amazing 'Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult' and 'Forever Consumed Oblivion'. The main riff of the latter was enough to place me on a high without the aid of even a drop of alcohol. Yes, it was seriously that good. They also picked out two songs from their sophomore album 'Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun', rounding the set perfectly. They quite clearly were here to promote the new album, but they made full use of the fact that this was an hour-long headline show and not a half an hour opening slot as it usually has been for them on the previous occasions I've seen this band. They got a chance to represent their entire catalogue in the set and they did a great job with the song selection. As if to sum it up, they ended the main set with an old song followed by a new one, the old one being one of the fan favorites 'Invert The Virgin'. I'm no Satanist, but this song is metal for all the reasons, its music as well as the song title and lyrics. I absolutely loved singing the chorus into Ben's microphone for this one.
They took a small pause before doing the encore of two songs from the Carving album. The best song of the album I was talking about earlier in this review, was the last song of the night, 'Apocalyptic Havoc'. This song alone has the ability to make listeners fall in love with the band. Ben thanked the gathering on behalf of the band and asked us to come out in support of their Ozzfest performance this summer.
Overall, Goatwhore played with unabated, unrivalled and unmatched aggression and kept the intensity going at full tilt throughout the 60 minutes of their set. I was already a fan of this band coming into this show, but after this performance they've become one of my favorite bands. I've been to nearly 50 shows this year and this was easily the most enjoyable of them all. Expect amazing things from Goatwhore in the near and distant future. I would end this with a question for Los Angeles residents who call themselves 'metal heads': Why were you not at the Blvd on Wednesday May 26th 2010?
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