The Whorehouse Massacre have been churning out catastrophic heaviness from the bowels of British Columbia since roughly 2005, with almost a dozen short releases, one full-length album, and a live recording to their credit. On February 20, Transcending Obscurity will release a compilation of the band’s most recent EPs under the title Altar of the Goat Skull / VI. It comes as a precursor to the band’s next album, which will be released by the same label, and at the end of this post you’ll have the opportunity to hear it in full.
But if you’re not already familiar with this band’s brand of sludge, I should probably warn you: Listening to this album all the way through risks severe spinal compression, concussion, bleeding in the brain, black eyes, and gradual suffocation. It’s a low, slow death inflicted by pulverizing riffs and gut-punching percussion. About the only light that escapes this maw of darkness are the sparks that come from the crash of cymbals.
The music vibrates with ugly distortion and groaning feedback. It takes little imagination to feel the floor beneath your feet shivering and fractures propagating through the foundation. When the vocals come in, they’re just as heartless. When the lead guitar surfaces from within the choking miasma generated by the riff hammers, it sounds like the ravings of a mind irretrievably lost in a psychedelic haze.
This is stripped-down, staggeringly crushing metal devoted to plumbing the depths of darkness and decay, and it feels like a long fall into a lightless chasm that has no end. But as perilous as the music is, it’s also frequently hypnotic in its appeal — it beckons, and you follow, even as you know that it’s leading you to places in your mind that you might rather not see.
For those who just want to test this offering instead of diving all the way in, I’d recommend “Sewer Dreams” and “Bowels of Hell”.
Altar of the Goat Skull / VI features cover art by Scott Stearns (Fistula, Accept Death), who also contributes a solo on “Bowels of Hell”, and it’s available for pre-order on limited-edition CD at the Bandcamp link below, where bundles of related merch can also be ordered. The album can also be downloaded immediately at the same location.
Stream this monster below. You’ve been warned.