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I will say that I never really were into Archgoat from the get go. I only knew of them through the split with Beherit. I heard the Archgoat half and was impressed with the rawness and mostly the guttural vocals. I haven't really heard a deep voice like that before. Sure, I've heard brutal death metal voices, but this was different. It literally sounded like a horned beast from hell grunting to primitive music around him. I still haven't heard anyone quite like Lord Angelslayer. Even vocalists in similar bands like Blasphemy, Black Witchery, old Beherit, Sarcofago and Proclamation don't sound like him. He's as demonic sounding as it gets within the black metal genre. I know that terms "most or best" get thrown around loosely, but You Tube any Archgoat song and you'll get the gist of what I'm saying. Lord Angelslayer sounds like demon who's puking up bile from a bad meal. Truly the most demonic sounding black metal vocalist that I am aware of. It doesn't get much blacker. Try to imagine Barry White if he were to be a bm vocalist. Yes, it's that deep.
I heard back in 2006 that Archgoat got back together and they were releasing a new album. I didn't care, so much that I never even knew they split up back in 1993. I just looked at them as a Blasphemy ripoff, and like most ripoff bands they never even come close to the band they copied in terms of quality. Especially the good portion of current Norwegian black metal bands as opposed to the early 90's batch. I saw Archgoat in the same way. But in the past 2 years or so I've been playing a lot of Blasphemy and old Beherit, and I've had to urge to look into similar sounding bands because A.) Blasphemy aren't releasing any new stuff anytime soon, if ever. and B.) Beherit are back but we're not going to hear 'The Oath Of Black Blood' again either.
So I decided to go into Archgoat's 'Whore Of Bethlehem' after seeing it in a concert where those distributors bring boxes of cd's to shows. I recognized the Chris Moyen cover art, as he's done practically anything related to Blasphemy and well respected underground bands. While the production is not on the raw level of their early demos, the sound is not polished or very clean either. It's just right. I must say, these guys impressed me immediately. They don't really sound all that much like Blasphemy, they're slower, not as thrashy or even as sloppy, they don't even do those terrible solos that Blasphemy did on their releases. The one thing that if you asked me that I loved most was the primitiveness, rawness of the vocals. The instrumentation is good, nothing extraordinary. They are not virtuosos, but the rhythm and timing of the main riff are very catchy and well done. They clearly came in with a plan and a sound to project. This wasn't some weak "cash-in" as so many reunited bands have done before and since.
The run of pure win that are tracks 2 through 4 are just mind blowing. The great slow down on 'Lord Of The Void' is just classic, perhaps their finest song. But 'Dawn Of The Black Light' comes an awfully close second in terms of their overall work. 'Angel Of Sodomy' is also up there as well. They are ridiculously catchy and raw at the same time, the riffs are there and the vocals keep it underground and hateful. Surely after those tracks there must be a letdown in quality. Surprisingly the quality kept up from beginning to end. 'Desecration' takes the speed up a peg and the slow down a minute into the song is excellent. Very similar to 'Lord Of The Void'. A true headbanging / mosh moment there. It speeds up and stays in your face. Really well constructed. The timing on the songs show that they had a game plan, a structure to follow. I understand many bands follow that too, but on these 10 tracks it sounds perfectly timed, as if they were reading your mind. The added bonus is that the songs are awesome.
The second half holds up remarkably well. 'Black Crusade', 'Whore Of Bethlehem', 'Grand Marshall Of The Black Tower' are viciously brutal and irresistibly catchy at the same time. The last track 'Hammer Of Satan' is a nice track to finish off this excellent release. The time off didn't soften up the band at all. I found out they were inactive from 1993 to 2004 and when you hear this compared to the earlier material you barely notice any difference except for production. I commend them for not trying to become a nicer, melodic, mainstream friendly band like so many have done in the past. Granted with a name like Archgoat you kind of are pigeonholed into sounding pretty brutal and primitive anyway. Lol! These copies are getting pretty hard to find since they're on a very obscure label. So grab on if you see it. This will go down as this generation's 'Fallen Angel Of Doom'.