Archgoat: The Luciferian Crown – A Review
The masters of primitive black/death are back, but is it any good?
Before The Luciferian Crown was released I read exactly two reviews of it. Both made largely the same points and cited the same criticisms, yet one gave it a good score, and the other a poor one. A friend referred to the records as having “moron-level songwriting” and wouldn’t be any more off than I for calling the album both, smartly structured and well written. Therein lies the duality of not only Archgoat, but especially The Luciferian Crown as an album.
Despite being born as early as in 1989, Archgoat has kept a very slow pace to their recordings, TLC being only the fourth full-length release. Though in part this is due to the initial dissolving of the band after their 1993 Ep Angelcunt (Tales of Desecration). The twin brothers Ritual Butcherer and Lord Angelslayer did, however, resume their duties in 2004, first with a touring drummer and later with Sinisterror of Torsofuck and Torture Killer fame. Four albums in fourteen years is not a dizzying speed, but the slow pace seems to have worked in Archgoat’s favour, as now no record is followed up, until new material is being missed. Making each record as welcome as a good beating*.
The Luciferian Crown is the first album featuring new drummer Goat Aggressor**, and while he handles his territory more than fine, he has a relatively traditional style, as opposed to Sinisterror’s heavier, more hammering, but surprisingly nuanced approach that made the band’s brand of black and death metal, interlocked somewhere between early Beherit, Blasphemy and Bathory all the more piquant. It’s hard to believe this would become much of a problem in any case, but it’s almost as if the band recognized the fact and decided to make up for it in songwriting.
Archgoat’s style has always been simple and straightforward with no frills, which is why how nuanced and well-built the entire arch of The Luciferian Crown is, comes as a bit of a shock. Right off the bat, “Jesus Christ Father of Lies” throws you into a frenzy of high speed riffs, coupled with a few slower ones – filled with noisy, chaotic guitar solos that avoid the worst of “whatever-note-I-happen-to-hit-whammy-bar-dive-bomb-Kerry-King-is-king school, followed by an honest-to-god, clear sounding bass solo – eat shit, Blasphemy. “Jezebels Black Mass Orgy” gravitates towards the slow and steady side of the band, while the squeal-sample lead “Messiah of Pigs” is a short and sweet bulldozer of speed and “Darkness Has Returned” flirts heavily with Bathory, lending each track a distinct persona of it’s own.
On the second half, “Sorcery and Doom” returns the focus on what Archgoat is best known for, before “Star of Darkness and Abyss” carefully introduces keyboards to the band’s sound. As “The Obsidian Flame – From My Depths” sinks into doom-like depths, it also refines the depth of the keyboard arrangements before the two last songs close with similar, but comparatively intricate arrangements. The heavy and clear sound and bass-y but separating mix serves Archgoat well, leaving Lord Angelslayer’s low, burp-esque vocals are with plenty of heft, and the riffs themselves, whether slow, simple, fast or more lively, have plenty of adhesiveness. The Luciferian Crown barely exceeds the threshold of half an hour, and I believe it’s all for the best – the Heavenly Vulva EP fared better than any of the band’s full-lengths, until now. Whereas The Apocalytic Triumphator – only one of their albums to reach the 40-minute mark, already seems to (marginally) suffer from it’s length.
I am pleased to note that Archgoat has managed to both, preserve the old magic and flame, as well as reform and renew themselves. Throughout their career, Archgoat has been known for primitiveness rarely rivaled even by their peers. But The Luciferian Crown proves they master a more vivacious performance as well – many a band can achieve this dense an atmosphere live, but few can transfer it to their records, and while TLC may not be the first time Archgoat succeed in this, it does take the transference to the next level.
As stated above, I feel The Luciferian Crown is the best Archgoat has had to offer. Their most nuanced and memorable, yet every bit as savage as before. And since none of their full-length albums have that mythical, nostalgic glow of a kvlt klassic released in the 90’s, merely for the sake of being released in the 90’s, I don’t think even the most long-term die hard should find that too hard to agree upon. The Luciferian Crown is easily worthy of
4.5 / 5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL
*In Finland, we have a saying: “I’d rather eat this, than get beaten up. Unless it was a good beating”
**Most likely Goat Aggressor did record the drums to last year’s Eternal Damnation of Christ 7″, but since I do not own a copy and neither the label’s site, nor Bandcamp (nor MA) offers information on the line-up, I cannot be sure it isn’t Sinisterror’s initial replacement VnoM who only left last year.