Review Summary: Old goats still know how to bleat.
It’s been 32 years since the Puolakanaho brothers formed Archgoat, and in time the band became one of the more well-known black metal acts from Finland. A lengthy career does not guarantee great productivity, but the Finnish veterans could be proud of their activity, since they released plenty of split releases, EPs, and now (with the addition of Worship the Eternal Darkness
) their catalog contains five full-length albums. The band’s progression over time is undeniable, as they refined their iconic death metal-infused black metal formula during the ages, and it’s safe to state that their latest album is easily the best Archgoat album to date - moreover, probably one of the best black metal releases of the year as well.
There’s a slim balance to being traditional while also being imaginative (especially in black metal), although Archgoat has successfully managed to walk on this narrow path. The blending of death metal elements into their sound was a strong factor of their successes (like Lord Angelslayer’s very deep guttural vocals, or the low-tuned guitars with slower, chugged/groovy riffs), and often they are associated with being one of the pioneers of the “war metal” branch within black metal alongside Blasphemy and Beherit. While the other two bands faded from relevance, Archgoat kept bombing metal fans with their massively riff-oriented black metal attacks. In time, the band turned away from the raw lo-fi aesthetics and started experimenting with newer styles, such as writing groovier riffs (remember the early Samael albums?) or even doomier songs (for example, their second LP, The Light-Devouring Darkness
really stepped into doom metal territories). After their very groovy and excellently riff-centric album, The Luciferian Crown
, I believe they set our expectations really high. However they managed not just to deliver the same excellence in terms of quality, but I daresay they fortunately outshined all of their previous works in Worship the Eternal Darkness
After a regular menacing intro, the album starts with brutal pace as “Heavens Ablaze” perfectly opens the new Archgoat album. Classic ‘90s era blast-beats, super fast riffs, and deep vocals already evocate a really sinister atmosphere, but the real treat comes when the mid-tempo section approaches. A fantastically theatrical, incredibly evil-sounding, and grimly atmospheric dark ritual greets the listener, where pulsating bass lines, a guitar solo, dark and threatening vocal performance along with church choruses in the distance can be heard, building an excessively captivating and menacing soundscape. The band operates with the same pattern pretty much all the way through the entire album - without sounding samey. Ritual Butcherer really gave everything he got into the album: his guitarwork feels really polished and improved compared to what you can hear in the band’s earlier albums - especially since the album contains a surprising amount of guitar solos. The smooth transitions on tempo front, and the pleasant variety with distortion and styles
were just as impressive. The contrasts and variety within had a very positive impact on the listening experience, and it was interesting to hear some (new) tones, like black’n’roll vibes in “Rats Pray God” (some love for Midnight!), or the stronger doom aesthetics in “All Christianity Ends” and “Burial of Creation” (the church bells are sick). The same could be said of the early ‘90s worship (with lots of tremolo picking and great melodies) in “In Extremis Nazarene” and “Empyrean Armageddon” for example. Basically, the entire package feels very-very strong, from every beat to the last sound sample finding its perfect place on the album, supported by a crispy yet balanced production.
Archgoat has never disappointed, and Worship the Eternal Darkness
personifies why this statement is true. The album has everything that a good black metal album can offer: the riffs, the evil atmosphere and most importantly: excitement. While they won’t revolutionize the black metal genre with this release, they still demonstrated why they are still one of the most consistent bands of the Finnish metal scene.