(We bring you the premiere of a full-album stream of the new work by the primordial Finnish horde Archgoat, preceded by Will Cifer’s introductory review.)
This album is another argument in favor of the dominance of European black metal. This Finnish band have been spreading the unholy word since the church-burning second wave of black metal in the early nineties. They have left a trail of splits and EPs in their wake, but this is only the band’s third full-length… so it’s kind of a big deal.
Archgoat combine the more classic metal sounds of early black metal with elements of a more grime-coated flavor of death metal than an entity like Mortuary Drape does, even though the two bands circle a similar sonic landscape. Archgoat’s strength is in mid-paced and even crawling tempos, and the mood of the music is often shrouded in a heavy cloak of doom.
The album opens strong and says strong. One element that really sets the band apart is the vocals. These growls are below guttural. They are the main death metal element. A hellish sewer is funneled through the throat of Angel Slayer. It’s maybe even a half step below Cannibal Corpse.
This style of vocalization comes across best on “Luciferian Theopany”. The spoken call to worship is even chanted down in this sinkhole register, the rasp rising from a gurgle to something more understandable toward the end of the song, though still noxious. The closing songs “Profanator of the 1st Commandment ” and “Funereal Pyre of Trinity” find the roars dropping into an even more guttural gurgle, with the latter song being the more dynamic of the two.
Archgoat are economical in their songwriting, maintaining most of their grim hymns in the three- to five-minute range. This is a welcome relief from some black metal bands who feel the need to have two sprawling 13-minute tracks make up an entire album. Their preference for paring to the bone is highlighted in the sub-three-minute blastfest “Congregation of the Circumcised”, and when they do extend themselves in the longest track, “Those Below (Who Dwell In Hell)”, they swing into an interesting change of course around the-three-and-a half minute mark.
The band never numb you out with blast beats; Sinisterror’s clattering snare drums and booming tom progressions have an amazing tone and a prominence in the mix that often make them sound like a tribal rite being performed right inside your head. The use of keyboards is sparse but dynamically effective, haunting the edges of the songs, appearing just when needed to break things up, and Ritual Butcher’s guitar solos are explosive.
The album is also really well-produced. They attack their instruments with a raw intensity, but the sound is still very crisp and clear. I think purists who prefer the “necro” lo-fi sound will be willing to meet in the middle on this one since the band is so heavy and so deadly serious in their delivery. The guitar tone has an awesome crunch on the classic metal chug that opens “Sado-Magical Portal”. The drummer’s subtle accents amidst the bombastic beating he inflicts on his kit is one more injection of smarts into the songs, something that your average black metal drummer would have blast-beaten past.
This new Archgoat offering raises the bar for black metal bands in 2015. They prove that it is possible to be insanely heavy without forsaking songwriting. The first nearly perfect album of 2015.
The Apocalyptic Triumphator will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on January 26, 2015, and is available for pre-order now on CD, LP, and in special editions at this location. Additional merch is also available for pre-order here. The album features cover art by Chris Moyen (BEHERIT, BLASPHEMY) and layout by Dehn Sora (BLUT AUS NORD).