Hailing from New Orleans, Goatwhore are one of the most anti-religious metal bands going. But despite the darkness of their overarching message, the music is tight, white-hot, stop-on-a-dime hardcore metal. Hanging together for nearly two decades, Goatwhore have released six full-lengths, but 2012's Blood for the Master and the soon-to-be-released Constricting Rage of the Merciless are by far the best albums the band has made.
From the road in Nevada and in anticipation of Friday's show at the House of Blues, vocalist Ben Falgoust spoke with DC9 about the band adopting a more structured songwriting approach and why he is so vehemently against organized religion.
Your music is definitely anti-religious. Do you get a good reception when you play a conservative state like Texas?
You know, people don't really believe that shit no more. They just go to church because they think that it makes up for everything, but it doesn't. They still do fucking crazy shit.
What percentage of your audience do you think are Christians? Do you think there are a lot of Christians who are closet metalheads?
I'd like to do a survey and find that out. Who knows? People do weird things. I think there is a possibility of that. I think in this day and age, people don't embrace religion like they used to. I think people are getting a little more intelligent. They are realizing that you can live on your own and do your own thing. I am not talking about being destructive, but just living with everyone around you and knowing that we are all equal.
Were you raised in a religious atmosphere?
I was raised as a Protestant. It was more of a thing with my mom, but neither of them really followed through. They allowed me to do things I wanted to do, things I was interested in. My dad was pretty strict, but both of my parents were open-minded about things. They let me see what kind of route I wanted to take.
Are you a spiritual person?
I wouldn't say that I am a spiritual person. I am open to everything. I like to read about all kinds of different things, ideas and aspects and then I mix that in with the darker elements of life.
Is it just organized religion that bothers you?
I am against organized religion. It is oppressive. It locks people into thinking things have to be a certain way. They tell you that if you don't believe exactly one way then you are not going to make it to some magical place when you die. These people are too focused on the afterlife when they need to be more concerned with everyday life. These people do this crazy shit and they think that going to church on Sunday will make it right. Honestly, I really don't care what happens after I die.
Why does metal need all these subgenres like black metal and death metal?
I don't think metal is the only one with subgenres. Country Western, if you go deep enough, there are probably ways to break that down. You have pop country and traditional country. You have that full underground kind of country that is going on, too. I don't really listen to country, but there may be unknown subgenres of that out there.
What other types of music do you enjoy?
I listen to a lot of old stuff like Queen. I also listen to blues. I have to say that I listen to a lot of metal. When I was growing up, I listened to a lot of metal and hardcore and punk. When I was younger, I did have those blinds on. That's when you only want to listen to one kind of music. You get older and stumble upon other things that kind of open you up. I like anything that offers a different idea to what I am doing. Ideas spawn other ideas.
There seems to be a lot of interest in classical music in the metal scene.
Yes, classical is a really technical style of music. Many metal musicians are into it because of its structure, how things are laid out. I put classical music on in the background when I am working on something. It keeps your mind busy. It keeps things calm and flowing.
Your band has been around for 17 years. What have been the biggest changes in the metal scene?
Oh, hell, man, a lot has changed. It's gone from Black Sabbath to Korn. You know what I am saying? It's something you can't control. It's a roller coaster. People are influenced by different things. Some bands are way ahead of their time. When we first started touring in a van, we didn't have cell phones or GPS. You would have to stop and get on a pay phone to call a promoter. You would have to use a map. Nowadays, it's so easy. Now, it's all email and Internet.
Your album from 2012, Blood from the Master, used more simple structures. Did that continue on the new album?
Yes, I think that is a natural progression to where we are as a band. I am not like one of these guys who dismiss their older records. Albums we have done show our progression and influences and growth. I appreciate our earlier records a lot. We were greatly influenced by Celtic Frost. That influence came out on our early records, but now we have evolved into our own sound. The new album is kind of like Blood from the Master, but it also has elements of our past records. It shows the evolution of the band as a whole.
Seeing that you are from New Orleans, you don't really associate that city with a metal scene.
New Orleans has a good metal scene. There are many bands that have come from that scene. Eyehategod, Crowbar, Acid Bath, Soilent Green and Down. The list goes on and on. It's not a huge scene, but it is a close, tight-knit scene that works together. When I was younger, I used to drive to Houston to see a lot of shows that skipped over New Orleans. These bands still don't play New Orleans. It's not a big market city.