Goatwhore's seventh full-length and second recorded reel-to-reel, Vengeful Ascension was captured at Earth Analog near Champaign, IL with longtime soundman and comrade Jarrett Pritchard (1349, Gruesome), breaking a four-album tradition of working with Erik Rutan. The resulting 10-track, 41-minute production – mixed by Chris Common (Tribulation, Pelican) and mastered by Maor Applebaum (Faith No More, Halford, Today Is The Day) – marches in, clutches its listeners by the throat and refuses to loosen its grip until the abrupt conclusion of "Those Who Denied God's Will."
A sonic manifestation of war, chaos, desolation, and emotional conflict, seamlessly bridging 20 years of the band's signature brand of audio venom, it's a record that finds its members at their most accomplished both individually and as a cohesive unit. Guitarist Sammy Duet's dense, sub nuclear riff work and possessed solo blitzes are at their most devastating, spiraling flawlessly and instinctually around drummer Zack Simmons' and bassist James Harvey's hammering rhythms, while Falgoust's distinctly commanding roar, his acidic prose, more enunciated than ever before, complimenting the apocalyptic proceedings. While hardly a concept record in the traditional sense, Vengeful Ascension loosely revolves itself around Luciferian notions in title and spirit where the symbol of Lucifer serves not as a fiendish, all-destroying demon but rather an emancipator or guiding light. It's a theme of struggle and transcendence derived from John Milton's Paradise Lost epic, and one that has appeared, whether directly or indirectly, within Goatwhore works of the past.
Vengeful Ascension serves as the soundtrack to that luciferious rise straight off with the combative, ritualistic drum onslaught of opening hymn, "Forsaken." Wholly immersive, each track is alarmingly palpable in subject and corresponding execution. The tense, clandestine battery of "Chaos Arcane," based on HP Lovecraft's book Nyarlathotep – a story which attempts to recount the inexplicable sense of fear in expectancy of an unknown evil – conveys that sensation of impending doom through sound in a way only Goatwhore can. "Mankind Will Have No Mercy," a pseudo tribute to Bolt Thrower, seethes under the weight of its own wartime sentiment, while the rapid-fire, punkish urgency of "Under The Flesh, Into The Soul," a first person account of irrepressible resentment, sounds utterly enraged. And with an average runtime of just four minutes, no one song ever overstays its welcome.