Given the fractionalization and dilution of the European black-metal scene, it was only a matter of time until somebody growled, "Enough." No more keyboards, no more orchestras, no more forays into techno-metal, or opera-metal, or forest-metal, or any of the other hyphen-metals that have sprouted up like necrotic mushrooms around the base of black metal's Yggdrasil tree. Something evil had to put its foot down -- or, more accurately, its cloven hoof -- and stamp out those bands who blasphemed against the blasphemy of black metal. That hoof (size 666, double EE-vil) belongs to America's own Goatwhore, whose 2000 debut album, The Eclipse of the Ages Into Black, is a corpse-paintless, malevolent romp through the swampy thickets of black metal's stagnant undergrowth.
Goatwhore is neither subtle nor complex, nor should it be. It's black metal, not black prog-rock. Drummer Zak Nolan does amphetamine time on the double bass, bassist Pat Bruders brings the deep roar of the underworld to the forefront and Ben Falgoust, whipped into a demonic fury by Sammy Duet's excoriating guitar, seethes and bubbles as if he's just witnessed Cthulu giving the short-arm inspection to those codgers from Venom. The lyrics are impenetrable sheets of bile and heresy, but occasional snippets emerge from the hellstorm: "A serpent of wisdom (unintelligible) coming to take my heart to this evil," Falgoust promises, and you have no choice but to believe him. Birds drop from the sky, dark clouds mass on the horizon, water turns brackish and blood coagulates in blank eye sockets. Goatwhore forsakes the artistry and artifice of its European brethren, relying instead on a brutish, ugly excess of power focused through hate to make its point.