For the first music related post on my blog, I've decided to review the latest album by melodic death metal band Arghoslent.
A little quick background on this band: Formed in 1990, they have been one of the leaders of underground melodic death metal for almost two decades now. They're signed to legendary metal label Drakkar Productions, home to other acts like Germany's Haggard and the (ridiculously named) Goatreich 666, who hail from Italy. After quite a few demo released in the early 1990's, Arghoslent put out their first album "Galloping Through the Battle Ruins" in 1998. Since then they have released a second full length "Incorrigible Bigotry" and now their third. A band hailing from Oakton in Fairfax County, Virginia, they are probably the best band from the Northern Virginia area and one of the few decent metal acts I can consider local. The other interesting fact regarding Arghoslent's modus operandi is their interesting interpretation of historical events (the band refers to themselves as "Totalitarian death metal"). Critics will call them blatant and unashamed racists, fans will say it's just how they view the past. Either way, you gain quite a reputation when you have song titles such as 'The Negress' and 'Flogging the Cargo.'
The wait for "Hornets of the Pogrom" was long, and it has easily been my most anticipated release of 2008. So how does the final product hold up?
In a word: Monstrously. This album is lightning fast, uncompromisingly pounding, and most important of all chock full of memorable riffs. Arghoslent has always stood out from the death metal crowd for their incredibly well written and free flowing songs, several of which are monumentally epic in sound. Continuing the tradition of their early demos, "Pogrom" only serves to further cement this band's reputation as one of the most original and talented playing metal today.
Lead guitarist Pogrom and his cohort Holocausto never once let up on the riffing, and from start the finish all 42 minutes of this album are a mind blowing showcase of guitar work inspired more by Manilla Road and Iron Maiden than Cannibal Corpse or Death. That has always been Arghoslent's key - Guitars inspired by pure heavy metal riffing, pushed harder and harder until they sound like nothing else you will listen to in death metal. The melodically stunning riffs are complimented by technically astounding solos on quite a few tracks, specifically 'Dog and Broom' and the title track. Dancing in and out of focus but never leaving prominence, the guitar playing on this album would be a landmark for death metal were it not for Arghoslent's previous two releases. As it is, they continue their distinct sound quite well.
On the rhythm front, there is not quite as much to be praised. The drums display just the right amount of technical flash while keeping the wild guitars in check. I'm not sure who even plays the drums, since former man-behind-the-skins Alienchrist AKA The Gulag is apparently no longer with the band. But whoever they have knows his job and performs it quite well. Likewise with the bass. I'm assuming one of the guitar players handles bass duties since there is no dedicated player listed. Arghoslent is a band about the guitars, however, and the other two instruments are happy to take a back seat to the insane string work.
Since 2002's "Incorrigible Bigotry" Arghoslent has apparently gotten a new vocalist. Former growler Gravedigger (Rumored to be Richard P. Mills, former vocalist for Grand Belial's Key before his 2006 death, but later denied by the band) has given his post up to The Genocider. He does a quality death growl that fits with the music of "Pogrom" just as well as on former records. According to an interview, he's quite the strange fellow as well (see link at bottom). Speaking of Grand Belial's Key, they were a black metal band also from Oakton, Virginia who like Arghoslent was criticized for their racist ideologies. One of Arghoslent's guitarists played with them, as did former drummer Alienchrist. They broke up with Mills' death in 2006.
It is a grand thing to have bands like Arghoslent still playing original and exciting death metal in an age where trendy bands like Suicide Silence dominate the scene. Arghoslent is an inherently underground band, and they would have it no other way. If you are a fan of real death metal or metal at all, you owe it to yourself to listen to "Hornets of the Pogrom." As of writing this, it is the best album I have heard released in 2008 and that is not likely to change.
References & Links:
Official Home Page:
Interview with The Genocider: