Review Summary: Galloping past politcal correctness
When I first came across Arghoslent not long ago, I was intrigued. Being tired of the same old cliche taboo subjects of metal's oft nihilistic and/or anti-relgion/establishment lyrical content, my ears perked up at the thought of this band; racist master of death metal riffery. The first album I heard was Hornets Of The Pogrom, their latest and undoubtedly best work. It grew on me that's for sure; at first I was appalled at the initial simplicity of their songwriting, but after giving the album a couple more less prejudiced listens it quickly ascended to the upper-echelon of my '98 list. I thoroughly enjoyed their brand of racially insensitive thrashened old school death metal impudence, whose every riff evoked images colonial white badasses on a boat.
Despite being a debut LP, Galloping Through The Battle Ruins shouldn't be considered a raw and unfettered version of the style found on their two latter albums, as by this point the band had already been releasing music for 7 years and their songwriting was already excellent. For anyone who has never listened to the band, it should be noted that guys are ALL about the riffs, and good ****ing god do they ever have tasty riffs. Bordering on melodeath, these guys play inappropriately fun, catchy tunes for a such a nefarious group. If slave trading pirates played metal this is what it would sound like. None of this Alestorm bull***, Galloping Through The Battle Ruins is chalk full hateful jigs and prejudice grooves that sound ridiculously mean given their often beautifully melodic nature.
The overall recording package on Galloping Through The Battle Ruins is stellar given the year of release, '98. At the time it seemed like a lot of the better DM bands were still playing with an audible bassist, and this album is no exception. In fact for a good majority of the album you can hear the bass galloping along to the riffs just as well as the rhythm guitar, which is comes as a welcome change for any contemporary metal enthusiast. Aside from the the chunky bass frequencies the overall production holds a raw and edgy feel like an early 90's thrash album without forcing brutality by treading its feet through muddy mixing.
Lyrically the album focuses on the touchy subjects of racial superiority and historical cases of extreme racial prejudice. The kicker here is the presentation of the subject matters, poetically crafted with a knack for imagery and metaphor. This in itself really adds to the music at the end of the day. It is always a joy when one can read into the music's backstory and subject matter to better paint a picture of the message(s) being presented. Before I read the lyrics all heard was above average death metal with an old school twist, but once I knew of the band's ideologies and read into the poetry of their music, I was transported to those places and events in history. Arghoslent's truly uncanny ability to sync riffs with lyrical subject matter to mold a full and comprehensive soundscape is truly captivating.
Being all the about the riffs, Arghoslent's Holocausto and Pogrom handle the dueling axes and do a swell job. The riffwork of this band is seriously some of the best to grace the world of death metal. Juggling the arts of classic, death, and thrash metal style on one fine line, they don't drop the ball once, and never firmly set their fingers into any one of the genres either; rather maintaining a wholly unique twist on their music that falls somewhere between all the aforementioned genres. The riffs themselves boast an almost simplistic nature upon first listen, but interesting time signatures and bridges and seem to appear at odd time, like halfway through a bar, keep the music by flawlessly connecting musical ideas in a fresh manner. Solos are tastefully inserted into a good majority of the songs, and humbly yet surprisingly effectively add to the overall momentum of a song, instead of derailing it with pointless showboating.
The supporting cast also does more than a stellar job keeping up with the guitarists. Von Demonicus boasts a powerful voice that falls comfortably between the raspier work on Incorrigible Bigotry and the more guttural vocals on Hornets Of The Pogrom. Behind the kit, Alienchrist stands tall as a great drummer; just check out the instrumental track Incursions to get a good idea of his style. His rhythms are creative but not over the top, and he does a perfect job at balancing tasteful showmanship and tempo with fitting fills while galloping along to the guitars.
Consider if you will, the art of genre juggling to be like mixing ingredients in a blender; bands like Between The Buried And Me use only the finest ingredients of course, yet they only set that blender on for like 5 odd seconds, resulting in chunky bits of different genres sloppily spun into an audio smoothie full of awkward bits of conflicting textures. Arghoslent on the other band, distill their multifarious influences like good ole' batch of Virginian moonshine, resulting in a smooth, rich and consistent flavor that is ever so intoxicating.
I seriously struggle to find flaws with this band's music, mainly due to the fact that they do what they set out to do so damn well, or at least it sounds like it. If anything was to be of complaint here it would have to be the band's dedication to the riff, as contradictory as it seems considering its the riffs that also make the band so special. Arghoslent's music almost falls victim to thrash metal syndrome, but saves itself with interesting songwriting. Despite their best efforts though, the album can fall from the listener's attention at times simply because the dynamics remain too consistent throughout the album. Galloping Though The Battle Ruins simply lacks those "what the hell, rewind that sh*t" moments that the classics have, but it is still downright fantastic at what it does.
Overall, Arghoslent's debut does everything a good death metal debut album should; be raw but intelligent, creative yet palatable, consistent yet volatile. At the end of the day, some people may be turned away by thr bands image, not that this is anything new in the metal world; but really it is their loss. Galloping Past The Battle Ruins presents almost an hour of fantastic fun for the whole family.