New Orleans holds the honor of being home to one of the hardest working and tightest knit metal acts on the scene. Goatwhore is a band that has been through some truly tough times, and has survived only to come back stronger. They have always been a shining example of the tightly interwoven web of extreme metal bands that is not only a staple of the Louisiana metal community, but introduces a Norwegian black metal influence to the brooding sludge of the NOLA metal scene. Additionally they are a living testament to the fact that an almost relentless work ethic can propel a band out of the underground and into mainstream success.
Taking their name from a humorous event involving an exchange between one of the band member’s more boisterous friends, and a less than stellar looking stripper at a gentlemen’s club in New Orleans, Goatwhore was formed by former Acidbath guitarist Sammy Pierre Duet, along with drummer Zak Nolan. This new project was the result of Duet’s desire to pursue heavier musical territory that had been hinted at, but unexplored with his previous band. Influenced by old school black metal contemporaries such as Darkthrone and Celtic Frost, and crossover acts such as D.R.I., Duet and Nolan began exchanging musical ideas shortly before Acidbath’s 97 breakup. The success of that venture inspired them to round out the lineup with second guitarist Ben Stout and bassist Pat Bruders. Soon after, their debut EP, Serenade to the Tides of Blood was released. The EP is the only recording that features Duet performing full time lead vocals as well as guitar. This EP has been circulating the underground since the band formed, but don’t expect to find it via mainstream channels.
In 1998, Duet sustained a broken jaw in a bar brawl, requiring that he wire his mouth shut. Enter Louis Benjamin Falgoust, a long time friend of the group, and Soilent Green front man/ex-Paralysis. This addition would see Duet step away from lead vocal duties, but continue to perform considerable amounts of solo as well as backing vocals on all future releases. With their newly solidified lineup, and Sammy’s newly healed jaw, the band would hit the studio to record their first full length album, and is what would be described by some fans as being the “blackest” of their releases to date. The Eclipse of Ages into Black would be released by Rotten Records because of Duet’s contractual obligations to that label. Goatwhore would tour heavily in support of the album release. Eclipse would become a fan favorite, and serve as the band’s springboard to success.
Following the Eclipse tour, the band would begin a period marked by trials and tribulations. While on the road with Soilent Green, Falgoust would suffer serious injuries in a van accident in 2002, but would recover. Ben Stout would depart his role as second guitarist, bringing the band back down to a four piece. The events during this period would contribute heavily to the material on the band’s second Rotten release in 2003, Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun. Psycho Scenario’s Tim Holsinger would appear on guitar between 2002 and 2003, however he would not be present on the album. Funeral Dirge would be slower in pace than Eclipse, but would feature darker lyrics, and more sludgy, stoner style riffs courtesy of Duet. The lyrical intensity of this release is made evident by Duet’s quote in one interview as being “written in my own blood.” As before, the band would tour relentlessly in support of the album, being featured on the bill alongside bands like Vader, Cattle Decapitation, and Napalm Death. Original drummer Zak Nolan would resign as drummer in 2003, but would reappear in the lineup of one of Duet’s side projects, a battering ram of a group called Ritual Killer. Goatwhore would then begin to hold auditions for a new drummer, finding their man in Phoenix native Zack Simmons.
It was in 2004 that bassist Pat Bruders would be forced out of the band in 2004 to attend to what was only described as personal issues. He would eventually pop back up as Crowbar’s full time bassist, a project Duet would also serve a 5 year stint in. Crowbar is another NOLA band, and features Kirk Windstein. Meanwhile, while holding auditions for a new bassist, Goatwhore would bring in Shon Benham of Severed Savior to fill in. Following Denver in November of that year, the band would pull out of all tour obligations and would disappear for awhile, citing “internal problems.”
Goatwhore members along with countless other Golf Coast residents would face bigger challenges in 2005, as Hurricane Katrina swept in and unleashed a fury upon New Orleans. Rather than sticking around for the event, the band compensated with their usual resilience, hiring Nathan Bergeron as their new full time bassist, signing a deal with Metal Blade Records, and fleeing to Phoenix to work on the composition of their debut Metal Blade Release, A Haunting Curse. The band would record this juggernaut of an album with producer Erik Rutan in St Petersburg, Florida, and it would be released in 2006. The tour in support of the record would be highlighted by a stint in Europe. On the bill with them were label mates such as The Red Chord, The Black Dahlia Murder and God Forbid. They would also be featured on the 2008 Ozzfest bill. A Haunting Curse would be more mainstream than the previous two releases, and it would also venture farther into death metal territory than on previous works. During the U.S leg of the tour, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to meet both Ben and Nathan. Through my conversation with them, I was able to confirm how friendly and intelligent these guys really are, and I also noted the strong work ethic that they display. Right after their blood draining, sweat inducing set the band was right back on the job, working behind the merchandise table, signing autographs, and mingling with their fans.
With the conclusion of the touring for A Haunting Curse, Goatwhore would get right back into the studio after a short break. Working with Erik Rutan once again, the band would begin writing tracks for their second Metal Blade release, Carving out the Eyes of God. This album would be quoted by the band as “back to the roots.” Released in 2009, Carving out the Eyes of God would have the distinction of being one of the heaviest hitting albums by the band to date, being met with rave reviews all around. A short US tour would commence in September alongside Berserker, and Warbringer. They would support sludge metal godfathers Eyehategod on the second leg. April finds the band on tour in New Zealand and Australia.
With the battle scars of band that has gone through almost constant struggle to get where they are today, it is no wonder that Goatwhore is among the most well known and respected bands in their genre. The group are true fans of the counterparts of their craft, and they leave in their wake a legacy of hard work, relentless endurance, and passion for their work. They are also mean, hungry, and pissed off, so there is no doubt that we’ll be seeing much more of The Goat in the years to come.