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It's nice to have something that's pretty bad sometimes; it puts things in perspective. Although neither side of this properly falls into 'pretty bad'; Hellgoat is terrible and Legions Of Astaroth is fairly mediocre which just makes them average out into 'pretty bad', which actually means that this is a terrible release because there's nothing here that's just honestly bad; either it's completely incompetent and awful or just lazy and bland, both of which are some consistently bad features of the black metal scene. I can't really recommend either side of this split to anyone and this is another release where I sincerely wonder what the label was thinking when they put it out; was this the best thing they could find? Really?
I guess I don't really hate Hellgoat as much as find them to be just dumb and lame; I don't even get what the purpose of this band is. It doesn't have the charming integrity of a band like Zarach 'Baal' Tharagh or the insane evil of a band like Necro Cult; it's just incompetently written and played black metal with excruciatingly bad production. Really, it just sounds terrible; the guitar tone seems to rest somewhere in the whistle register while clattering, stutteringly played drums take up the foreground while some rather limp vocals lazily circle over everything else. The songs seem to be going for a pseudo-Celtic Frost meets modern USBM vibe with occasional slow passages popping up amidst the blasting sections in an attempt to establish some sort of variation (which, of course, fails, because none of the riffs are articulate enough for you to know what's going on in the first place). Moreover, it's incredibly boring; the only interesting thing about this side is the superficial, clearly intentional rawness with which it's recorded.
Unlike Legions Of Astaroth, I don't really see a glimmer of hope for this project because it's clearly designed to be just as stupid and boring as it manages to be on this release. There's no point to this music; it was clearly established on a lark for some guys who need a hobby for after work, and while that might be good enough for them, it's not conducive to the release of very good music. This side's a complete loss and absolutely unnecessary to hear unless you have a masochistic desire to hear the bottom of the USBM barrel.
Legion Of Astaroth, on the other hand, isn't incompetent, just lazy and effortless. Musically similar to Hellgoat but with better production and an artificial additional layer of structural complexity, Legions Of Astaroth really expends no more effort than Hellgoat on their music; they're just less genuine about their laziness. This band sounds like US-style black metal and nothing more; alternating fast and slow sections in place of actual song structures, rather mediocre tremolo riffing dominating the melodic spectrum, and vocals just as boring as Hellgoat given all the rhythms you've heard a thousand times before. This is almost abhorrently conventional music; the only positive aspect about it is that, unlike Hellgoat, the band actually knows how to write songs with more than two riffs and produce them adequately.
In some ways Legions Of Astaroth is actually more offensive to my sensibilities than Hellgoat just because it's so disingenuous; who's honestly supposed to like this music? I realize there's a certain section of the metal listening population who will listen to anything as long as it's black metal and like it, but this seems too lazy even for those types; I can't imagine anyone having positive feelings towards this music. It actually makes me lethargic just listening to it, as though the slothfulness of the band actually transfers to the listener while the CD is playing.
As you can expect, there's absolutely no point to acquiring this CD if you have any taste. It's stupid and bland music for stupid and bland people, and any enjoyment you derive from it is really a mark against you. Avoid.
I saw Legions of Astaroth with Ceremonial Castings, Crimson Moon, Tenebrous, and Demoncy. They were, in my opinion, the second best act. Ceremonial Castings was my favorite because I knew them, but I had never even heard Legions of Astaroth before. They blew me away. Their stage presence is amazing and the singer has a very evil look to him. Twitching and having his eyes rolled up in his head, he puts on a very creepy image. I purchased this split album, along with a shirt. I like the songs on this CD, but the production is terrible. It’s definitely black metal, but its hard to understand what is going on. The guitars are tuned nicely, but they get buried in the mix when everything else comes in. The vocals are quiet, yet amazing. The drums aren’t very complicated, but they are good. They also get buried. Their live performance was 100 times better than the album, but it still gets an 80 from me. Legions of Astaroth’s songs are better recorded and mixed than the Hellgoat songs. With that, I recommend getting this CD before it sells out, since it is only limited to 1000 copies.
When I heard this split, the first thing I thought was, "This is what happens when people think a raw album is good." When I say raw, I don't mean that it's brutal, grim, or anything like that. I mean, it's just plain bad. If a band wants to use raw production, then fine, but there are limits. In this split, both bands crossed not only that limit, but many others that shouldn't be crossed.
The only words I need to describe the Hellgoat portion of the split are Bedroom Black Metal. This was so raw that it was painful to listen to. The guitars were so distorted that it sounded like some whimpy japanese motorcycle. I couldn't tell a difference. I don't think there even was a bass in there, and if there was, then it was drowned out by all the other badly produced shit. The drums sounded like someone was banging on pillows while tapping on a desk. The vocals were even worse. They actually sounded like they accomplished something, and I'm pretty sure since Amon was arrogant enough to put this piece of shit on a split, he probably thought he was the next Darkthrone.
The Legions of Astaroth portion had a slightly better production. I didn't feel like cutting my ears off from the production. But then again, they crossed many other lines. For starters, the guitar sounds like a swarm of angry bumblebess. This doesn't help by the practically non-existent bassline, which they have improved since the split. The drums, once again, sound like shit. Maybe because Amon from Hellgoat is the drummer for Legions of Astaroth. The worst thing about the LoA portion was the vocals. Someone's obviously trying to rip off Nyktalgia and Silencer. This isn't suicidal black metal, so they shouldn't use that style of vocals. Even if it was suicidal black metal, it would still suck because it sounds like some Kung-Fu ninja trying to do black metal. If Bruce Lee had a black metal band, it would be this one.
Overall, this album sucks. Don't listen to it unless you're deaf.