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Ah, the Baltic youth - 67%

UCTYKAH, December 22nd, 2011

The second release received from Inferna Profundus was more digestible to me. Again, the this time gothic cover art is all but deceptive, for ARGHARUS specialize in strictly aggressive and pretty unrelenting side of metal. Essentially, this is yet another band struggling to buoy the pitfalls of modern metal, attempting to apply some contemporary shine and a bit of unorthodox flair to the well established formulas, pay tribute to the old times and be in step with the new. And while I would be very reluctant to throw words like "inspired" or "profound" around, describing this band as "competent" might be the right thing to do. Specializing in the sort of contemporary, studio black metal, ARGHARUS do look over their shoulder quite a bit and apply significant doses of death and even thrash influence to their riffing and percussive prowess, along with some semi-rough edge in their otherwise clean, leveled sound, sticking it all into a modern blender of a medium price range.

The opening track "Dievori" makes a sympathetic impression with its black/death concoction. Coming off perhaps not unlike a calmer, toned down and somewhat more blackened offshoot of the band's Polish neighbors AZARATH, it features alternating, blast ridden death metal buzzing with very slight hints of groove here and there next to blackened tremolos that are periodically interrupted by semi-atmospheric breakdowns dominated by Scandinavian melodic sensibility. "Mano Ligos - Tavo Ligos" - a track that strives to be the album's centerpiece - follows suit with visibly more black metal approach. Icy, typically Nordic melodies collide with unrelenting drum blasts and very much thrash-based, blackened riffs in a rationally structured manner. The track's claim to leadership, and that's where comparison to the label-mates SVARTTHRON could be drawn, is yet another attempt at vocal "disturbia". Results are, again, dubious, as during the most crucial display of mental derangement vocalist 7 (that's the name) for the most part ends up choking and coughing his way around like a chronic bronchitis patient. Hearing the guy struggle in that manner brought a little more than chuckles from yours truly. Immediately after, the listener is treated with a short and untitled, noise/power electronics track, possibly designed to further capture the moment of insanity via pulsating drone and mild, static noise. The latter is substituted towards the track's end by deliberately sloppy and out of tune guitar strumming. I suppose this little number could theoretically be developed into something grander if some work was put into this, but the band was merely interested in a short interlude, so all experimentations end right there.

The remainder of the album pretty much follows the established blueprint, rearranging around variables at hand and trying to make them stick. And for the most part they do, although, I am afraid, in a more generic manner. There are some good things that could be pointed out, of course, like a nice, melodic solo on "Krecianti Kontrole" or cool, stomping and treading rhythm of "Brolisko Kapo Sindromas", but all that is not enough to pull the record by its bootstraps into the upper leagues. On the other hand, it seems that 7's performance actually turned out to be somewhat of a saving grace for the album, or rather an extra spice needed, when all was sad and done. Probably having downed a bottle or two of unnamed Lithuanian cough syrup and tightened his belt, he adorned the rest of the otherwise presentable yet very much middle of the road material with bits of comparatively diverse vocal noises, at least on some of the remaining pieces. 7 comes off like a more distorted, grating version of OBTESTS's Baalberith on "Brolisko Kapo Sindromas" before switching into the more "mental" semi-moaning on the track's second half, and then unleashes some high register, hysterical screeches on "Viskas Perniek" and howl-and-scream recitations on the closing "Prakalba i Atmatas". As such, his efforts do prevent the material from sliding down the scale, and in this day and age such holding action points towards some potential.

At the end, with this release ARGHARUS simply joins the enormous cohort of second tier newcomers roaming the global landscape, albeit doing it in a cogent if not exactly remarkable way. What becomes of them remains to be seen.

(Originally published in diabolical Conquest web-zine)