Archgoat - The Luciferian Crown - (7/10)
Published on September 7, 2018
Not the GOAT ‘Goat–Still Good ‘Goat.
There are certain old standbys that everyone has—not just in music, but in all areas of life. Everyone has that restaurant that, even though it may have lost a little of its luster over the years, always provides a solid meal. Or that certain director who may no longer be producing masterpieces, but continues to make enjoyable movies that you can’t help but watch. For me, Archgoat has become one of these old standbys. They were one of the earliest bands to play War metal, styled after Canadian legends Blasphemy. They have created undeniable classics like Angelcunt and The Whore of Bethlehem. And nobody is taking those away from me. But at this point, Archgoat has become old reliable for me—a dog who I know will always be around for a nice pat on the head—or maybe a goat who I know is always around for a nice head-butt to the face—even if that headbutt has lost a little of its oomph.
Archgoat has always been one of the most accessible bands playing in the War metal style. Compared to tamer styles of music, of course Archgoat is extremely abrasive. But compared to other bands like Blasphemy, Revenge, Proclamation, and Beherit, Archgoat is like the perfect distillation of “poppy” war metal. Their production is not so opaque that the riffs are obscured. The vocals are low grunts but not abrasive to the ear. The riffs are not so buried that they are overwhelming, and they’re simple but forceful construction always makes them memorable. Overall, Archgoat has always been a band who knows exactly who they want to be and have stuck with it from the start. At this point, Archgoat may have gotten the point of diminishing returns—albeit still pretty satisfying ones.
The Luciferian Crown finds Archgoat in mid-paced groove mode like on their last full length The Apocalyptic Triumphator except to a point of almost extremity in some cases. E.g., the intro of “Lucifer’s Temple” is so groovy I’m almost uncomfortable with it. It’s not to the point where I expect Phil Anselmo to start singing over it, but the fact that that thought has entered my head makes me feel icky. Other songs like “The Darkness Has Returned” stick closer to a Bolt Thrower style groove which is a better sweet spot for Archgoat. A further problem is that on tracks where Archgoat maintains a slow groove for the whole song, they get kind of grating and dare I say boring by the end. I definitely find the speedier numbers like “Star of Darkness” and “The Darkness…” to be more compelling listens overall than drawn out groove-fests like “The Obsidian Flame” or “Lucifer’s Temple.” Though some of the slower songs bore me, when Archgoat are at their bleating best, they are still a force to be reckoned with. Like on the massive “Sorcery and Doom,” which shifts between hellacious blast beats and ignorant sledgehammer riffs that beat you into a daze by the end of it; or the brief rager “Messiah of Pigs” which is like a shot of pure hellfire.
Everyone is still very solid instrumentally. The riffs, while of uneven quality, are all at least passable, and the guitar tone is still quite pleasant. The drumming has a gigantic sound, and though it can feel bogged down in blasts at times, there is enough variety to keep it interesting. Archgoat’s vocals have been getting lower in quality in my opinion with each subsequent album. Rather than the completely lifeless black hole of a vocal performance (in a good way) that we got on Whore of Bethlehem, the vocals have moved into a more gurgling roar. They’re not bad or anything, I just long for the days of the void.
Whore of Bethlehem was like a bonfire that your crazy uncle built. He put it too close to your house and some trees, he sprayed way too much lighter fluid into it, and those branches he’s using as kindling are so dry you’re positive the forest rangers have set the fire risk at “High” today. It is a thrilling and terrifying experience that feels like it could take your life at any moment. The Luciferian Crown is kind of like if that bonfire burned down to the coals. It’s not going to scorch you and you feel no sense of urgency or terror. But just because there’s no fear for your life involved, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to enjoy yourself. Remember: once the fire burns down to its coals, that’s the best time to toast your marshmallows. So what I’m saying is, grab your S’mores stick, sit around the campfire with me, and, as long as you’re not expecting a blaze you can post on YouTube, you’re going to have a good time.