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Giving bumpity fucks about moral conundrums - 82%

BastardHead, October 25th, 2012

[EDIT: January 7th, 2020: I feel the need to add a disclaimer here since as of the time of this addendum, discussion is swirling around the band again due to rumors of a new album. I wrote this review over seven years ago as of this writing, and since then I've grown a lot as a person. It should be clear in the text that I've always been at odds with the band's beliefs, lyrics, and themes, but I look back at my defense of these things as mere peripheries that can be easily excused simply because the riffs are awesome and cringe myself inside out. In [current year] I find it much harder to separate art from artist, though I do maintain that simply being a fan of things like extreme metal and cosmic horror pretty much require such an ability to some extent since most of the classics were created by vile people in these niches. In hindsight, this defense is weak, and I have no desire to defend such abhorrence against people who hate the art on principle. I do mourn the loss of innocence in the sense that I simply can't listen to this with a sense of complete disconnect the same way I used to do. However, I have no intention of deleting or rewriting this review because to do the former would be to try to whitewash my own shitty behavior, and to do the latter would honestly be pointless because I simply can't be bothered to do so right now and would also be disingenuous because I do think that on a purely musical level this is worth the score I gave it initially. I still believe that, on a fundamental level entirely divorced from the inescapably inexcusable lyrics and aesthetics, Arghoslent plays a particular style of metal that is unique and worth pursuing, and I find the criticism of the blend of traditional metal riffs with death metal being antithetical to one another to be ridiculous and (usually) approached in bad faith from people who never liked melodic death metal to begin with. This blend of brutality and catchy hooks is fantastic on paper. So I leave this review up in its original form with this Looney Tunes Disclaimer at the beginning in the hopes that somebody will read this and understand what I love about this on a purely musical level, and then go start their own band that does the same thing but keeps the abominable racism far the fuck away from it.]


I really, really hate the fact that I love this album. I feel like a shitty person every time I headbang or air guitar, especially when I sing along. For those who couldn't take a hint from a title as in-your-face as Incorrigible Bigotry or song titles like "Flogging the Cargo" or "Quelling the Simian Urge", Arghoslent is a very racially charged band. They identify as racialist, which is different to plain ol' racism in the same way that fucking your half sister is different to incest. You see, these poor misunderstood souls don't hate black people, they just believe that they're genetically inferior ape-men who should be seen as subhuman. See? That's so not the same thing, LEAVE POGROM A-LOW-HOOONE. And yes, I'm well aware of the hypocrisy involved here because I always preach that the lyrics/message of the music shouldn't be a huge deciding factor of your enjoyment. I see this all the time with religious/anti-religious themes. There are people who won't touch anything with a Christian bent, which means they'll miss out on some awesome stuff like Woe of Tyrants, Trouble, and Tortured Conscience. And then there are the Christians who won't get near anything satanic or just anti-theistic in general, which means they miss out of 70% of heavy metal. My view is that it shouldn't really matter, because music is music and if you can make a connection to it, then it only enhances what you would normally like anyway, and if you disagree with it then oh well, your choice but you could be missing out on something great.

But Arghoslent? Man this is a test of my resolve. Social issues always light a fire in my belly, and here we have a band that I think are legitimately very good that stands for everything I don't. Here I am supporting a band who not only writes songs like "Manacled Freightage" (not on this album, that one can be found on Hornets of the Pogrom), but also contributed to a compilation titled Smashing Rainbows, obviously supporting homophobia. How can I consider myself a fan of a band who, regardless of whether for their genuine beliefs or just because they like to stir up shit, holds views so extraordinarily extreme and opposite to my own? The frank answer is this; they are one of the only bands in this day and age to write riffs on par with Mercyful Fate in their heyday.


I know, that's a ludicrous claim to make. Nobody can write riffs like Sherman and Denner. Nuns Have No Fun, Melissa, and Don't Break the Oath are some of the greatest metal albums in all of history, and one of the reasons for the timelessness of those early '80s masterpieces is because the riff writing was and to this day still is unparalleled. That main riff to "The Oath" is in my top two greatest riffs ever written. Now currently there seems to be a small resurgence of Fate's sound seemingly centered around Sweden, with bands like In Solitude, Portrait, and (to a lesser extent) RAM. Even with all of these bands attempting to recapture the magic of one of the greatest bands in the history of heavy metal, I still maintain that the band that comes the closest to reimagining those gorgeous riffs are a melodic death metal band from Virginia.

And right off the bat I make another confusing statement. Yes, in the most literal sense, Arghoslent play melodic death metal. There is a difference between melodeath (which is essentially crunchy Iron Maiden songs with growls on top (see: In Flames, At the Gates)) and death metal that is melodic (which is what it sounds like, death metal with melodious riffing (see: Vehemence)), and Arghoslent fall into the latter category. Incorrigible Bigotry consists almost entirely of classic metal riffs put in the context of a death metal song. For a good example, take a look at the opener, "Flogging the Cargo". That verse riff couldn't be less death metal if it was played by Rainbow Bright and the Sugargina Brigade, but it's backed by a frantic blastbeat and layered underneath the hellish roar of the vocalist. Essentially each and every note the guitars rip forth hearkens back to the mindset of bands raised on Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate, and it really helps set the band apart (in addition to the obvious reasons). Honestly, I find it hard to deny the quality of the riff writing within the album. Originally I was just going to list a few examples, but I'm really struggling to do so. Literally every song barring maybe "Heirs to Perdition" is filled to the brim with top notch heavy metal riffs. My personal favorites are probably the outro to "Quelling the Simian Urge" and the bridges to "Archaic Invincibility" and "The Purging Fires of War", with the lattermost song probably being the best on display. The overall performance across the board comes off as rather sloppy at times as well, but it never works to the band's detriment for the same reason The Lord Weird Slough Feg's Twilight of the Idols is so enjoyable. In fact Slough Feg is another good point of comparison for the composition as a whole. Chaotic solos aside, the more midpaced sections (particularly "Archaic Invincibility") really bring to mind bands like Slough Feg and Brocas Helm.

The classic metal bent also gives the album an air of levity. Despite the waves of vitriolic bile that the band belches forth with the lyrics, I can't help but find them to be rather sing-songy. I know I've been quoting sections of lyrics an awful lot in my reviews lately, but again I just have to illustrate what makes this album so conflicting to me. I'm going to assume (hope) you aren't a bigoted dipshit, so try to imagine this stanza:

Burying swords into emaciated ribs
Tired naked souls could no longer walk
Exotic filthy mongrel dogs
Fettered to failure by a flawed genome

Imagine that presented in a way that was simply irresistible to growl along with. That morally confuses me as an obnoxious punkass who can't help but sing along and mimic instruments whenever listening to something vaguely resembling music. Arghoslent is just damn good at making their music catchy, and I almost hate them for that.

That said, I'm not in love with everything about this album, it does indeed carry a few noticeable flaws. The most obvious problem is presented precisely three seconds into the first song, and that is that the lead tone is obnoxiously bad. It carries an almost visible buzz that ends up being very distracting whenever a lead line is playing, it's like dropping a beehive on a synthesizer. The saddest part is that it isn't even all that different from the rest of the album. Considering 90% of these riffs were more inspired by Hank Sherman than Bob Rusay, the band doesn't really aim for crunch. Again, this makes the album's overall feel and sound quite distinguishable from most bands of their ilk. Instead of a thick, crunchy, and beefy assault, the guitars are instead a very heavy kind of fuzz. I'd call it "steel wool" if it wasn't so soft. Yeah, the tone is about as sharp and heavy as a beach ball, and it does take away from what the band was trying to do. The percussion also leaves a bit to be desired as well, as apart from maybe two filling segments in "Quelling the Simian Urge" and "Heirs to Perdition", he tends to alternate between three different beats and rarely changes it up. Usually this wouldn't bother me too much, but when the guitars are so creative, I'd like to see the rest of the band step it up as well. And if I'm being extra nitpicky, the tracklist could be tweaked a bit as well. The first three songs are instantly recognizable with tons of standout parts between them, and the following four, while all very good, tend to blur into one bigger whole. They all contain excellent parts that I'll hum and air guitar when I think nobody is looking, but I sometimes have trouble remembering precisely which song they came from. Plus the album really could have benefit from ending on "The Purging Fires of War". That song is just so damn huge and imposing, with that long bridge and monstrous buildup, if it were followed by any track other than "Quelling the Simian Urge", I'd probably quickly lose interest and go listen to the previous song again. It's a great closer and I wish the band would have realized that as well.

All told, it's hard to describe at length what to expect with Incorrigible Bigotry because "classic metal riffs in a death metal context" pretty much sums up the whole experience. I think it's incredibly well done and well paced and on the whole it's a very fun experience, despite the subject matter. I don't want to play the "Open Minded" card to justify why I like this album so much, but the beliefs are a huge part of what makes this band, so it can definitely be hard to get past. If you can though, it's chock full of excellent Mercyful Fate styled riffs and unstoppably catchy songs.

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