Review Summary: Straight from the same old bag of tricks.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a convenient little phrase that is all-too-often used as an excuse for a band to rest on their laurels and slip into a state of self-satisfaction. Granted, if a band’s sound is unique and the quality of their material is sufficient, continuously drawing from the same idea pool can be welcomed by fans and critics alike. Archgoat have a winning formula, and have done ever since the raucously titled Angelcunt
EP dropped in 1993. However, three full-lengths into their comeback now, the band’s new material simply doesn’t have the same impact as that of yesteryear. Archgoat’s latest release, while a decent album in its own right, is underwhelming thanks not only to its creators’ insistence on replicating the past, but a sense of complacency that had been trickling into their sound with each passing instalment.
Musically, The Apocalyptic Triumphator
follows in the same vein as every other Archgoat release in just about every conceivable way, be it the instrumentation, the lyrical subject matter or the song structures. Infectious power chord progressions are juxtaposed with mid-tempo tremolo sections, and the wailing solos are usually simple, brief and draped in reverb. Tuomas Karppinen’s drumming operates in perfect tandem with the guitar work, as abundant blast beats ground the faster sections, while simple but effective fills and solid footwork compliment the slower, groovier portions of the songs. Without a doubt, the most impressive performance is that of vocalist Rainer Puolakanaho – better known by the oh-so grim alias “Lord Angelslayer” – who delivers a series of guttural mumblings as deep as the pits of Hell itself.
As far as the performances go, there isn’t a whole lot to fault here. Every element congeals together nicely, the issue being that there is little in the way of vigour and tenacity. If one thing separates The Apocalyptic Triumphator
from Archgoat releases of the past, it would be a sense of sterilisation. The band’s shift towards cleaner production with an emphasis on the low-register has stifled the occult atmosphere that they were presumably going for. The riffs and vocals no longer cut through a film of grime like they did on Whore of Bethlehem
, and instead trundle along without any of the vitriol that made the aforementioned such an entertaining experience. When taken on individually, the songs can be rather enjoyable, but over the course of an uninterrupted listen, the album stagnates and its constituents blend together. As a whole, The Apocalyptic Triumphator
is a classic example of an album paling next to the sum of its parts.
Those who anticipated another chapter of Archgoat impersonating themselves probably won’t be disappointed, but The Apocalyptic Triumphator
still falls short of the mark set by its creators in years gone by. There is little reason to listen to this beyond mere curiosity, which is ironic in that anyone familiar with the band should know exactly what to expect. Addressing the uninitiated, delving into Archgoat’s back catalogue will be time better spent.