Black metal is doing well in 2018. Albums by Craft, Esoctrilihum, Kriegsmaschine, Arkheth, Master’s Hammer and Hoth, for example, have taken the expression of the genre to new exciting directions. Then again, bands like Marduk, Funeral Mist, Immortal and Varathorn have all released more or less perfect manifestations of “classic” black metal sound. Adding to the latter roster is the brand new chapter in the history of Finnish blasphemers Archgoat.
Formed already in 1989 Archgoat are very much on the pioneering side of things when it comes to black metal. Their jesus-slaying direction has stayed unchanged throughout the decades and” The Luciferian Crown”, their latest opus in mockery of the all things holy, is no exception to this rule. It is only their fourth album in three decades, but everything they have put out so far has been gold. Archgoat are without a doubt a band that works through quality, not quantity.
In the early days of Finnish extreme metal the line between death and black metal was indeed a thin one. Beherit, Impaled Nazarene and Archgoat had all almost as much in common with early grindcore and death metal bands, as they had in common with Bathory. As Impaled Nazarene and Beherit fine-tuned their engines to a colder and more trebly sound with time, Archgoat still boasts that early Finnish black metal darkness loud and proud. Barking, almost froggy vocals of Lord Angelslayer remind the inhuman gurgles of certain Antti Boman of Demilich fame almost. Guitars churn in murky and weighty slabs and it is easy to hear that Archgoat does not fall into the traditional “bee in the matchbox” category more commonly known for Norwegian black metal and their worshipers.
Like being already mentioned, “The Luciferian Crown” does not stray from the paths chosen. It is a natural continuum to previous albums of theirs, namely “Whore of Bethlehem” (2006), “The Light-Devouring Darkness” (2009) and highly impressive”The Apocalyptic Triumphator” (2015). Shit… If you were into their “Angelcunt (Tales of Desecration)” EP back in the very beginning, you will still embrace the “The Luciferian Crown” for the very same reasons. Yet, there are also some new qualities to their sound too. “The Luciferian Crown” is certainly their most planned and arranged album to date. There is an aura of craftsmanship in everything here. What stands out the most, though, is the bass guitar of Lord Angelslayer. The instrument has been given more space and responsibility in the music and this might even be the biggest improvement of the album.
Musically ”The Luciferian Crown” is dark and foul, like a sewer in the heart of absolute darkness. This is not politically correct black metal, or something to stroll in the woods sporting a hipster beard with, but rather a black swarm of fumes from the plagued catacombs. Stiff, plain ugly blastbeats appear side by side with doom riffs Reverend Bizarre would be proud of. It conjures up timeless images of skulls, WW1 gasmasks and black haired, bearded goats. The spell of the music remains unbroken and music is extremely captivating throughout. Maybe less repetitive than in the past, but not at all rushed. Tunes like “Messiah of Pigs”,” Sorcery” and, “Doom” and” I Am Lucifers Temple” are 100% the stuff Archgoat fans are expecting to hear. “Darkness Has Returned” introduces a punkier quality to their songwriting, taking the Archgoat vessel near the sound Impaled Nazarene is know for. Yet, the pinnacle of the album is “Star of Darkness and Abyss”, which is in perfect balance of both violence and atmospherics.
So, the bottom line with this all is as follows: Even the words “enhanced musicality” might scare the core fan of Archgoat, one must not be afraid. The album has certainly been carefully updated, but the minor adjustments in the sound and songwriting of “The Luciferian Crown” only underline the exceptional dedication to their agenda Archgoat has. They are not about to change, but they are not doing the same record all over again either. Archgoat have kept their music interesting without losing the clear focus on how they are supposed to sound like. They are a fine example of how a band can be both – primitive and detailed in the same time. Their music is drawing from the sources old as bones, from the very first years of extreme metal, but there seems to be an additional layer of moss on the tombstone on every release. And like with every ancient graveyard, it is the decay that years have added on the monuments what makes the necropolis interesting and such is the case with Archgoat‘s music as well. In past 30 years, each of their releases has been better than the previous one, and that is an achievement nobody else in the black metal scene can match.
Rating – 4/5
Goat this into you right here –