Dark Descent Records
February 14th, 2012
Release length: 59:05
With many of today’s new acts in the style going for a much rawer appeal with their Doom Metal sound, Anguish take a much higher quality road. While Through the Archdemon’s Head is far from the raw and rough audio traits some labels cater to anymore, there is a slight restraint feeling in the audio thanks to the cold, empty sound brought on through the instruments and crisp, but far from sterile audio. The drums stand out well amid the slow to mid-tempo music well thanks to the echo from the snares that fades out nicely, holding on as long as it can before fading entirely. This honestly makes the album sound pretty open, but in a dark way. The cymbals to the kit are not the most fantastic in that aspect, but are still pretty loud and add to the hopeless atmosphere the rest of the music sets up, as well as the slight click that appears on the bass kicks. The guitars have a bit of a higher distortion to them, feeling a little more on the blunt side, but also not too loud in the mix. This allows the bass guitar performance to come through nicely and add a bit of a crushing vibe to keep the music grounded, as well as pushing the bleak, despair sound of the crawling music. The vocals are about what you would expect here, having a harsher tone to the harmonization, as well as a nice range that can include a guttural performance at times, but all together having a slightly sinister, dirty sound to them.
And really, that’s the kind of atmosphere you picture when those outside of the Metal style call it evil. The sound to Through the Archdemons Head really doesn’t come off too devastating with the bass impact, thanks largely to how rich the higher guitar distortion is, but you can’t help but feel the impact of the cold, dismal atmosphere that does give off a bit of a malicious tone. “Book of Fox” starts things off on a trudging pace that feels more like a twisted funeral march amid a dark ritual, and creative listeners can immediately throw visuals against the music and the guitar work that comes off really catchy. Aside that, there’s also the traditional Doom Metal pace that kicks in, a little faster than what has been established already, with riffs that feel crushing against the dirty vocal performance that captures both the modern brutality of the sound, as well as what it came to be when the pioneers ventured out into this field.
Much of the album remains that mixture of a slower to somewhat faster pace, never really shining much light for the listener. It’s rare that the pace of the music will really pick up, but it does happen on occasion. “When the Ancients Dare to Walk” does feature a shorter section where the music clearly picks up pace for a little bit, as does “Lair of the Gods.” The only difference is that the latter of those two really hammers away at the listener with this speed, bringing in a bit more intensity with it as it builds from its trudging pace onto a harder, heavier sound backed by roughly triple the speed of what it started out as. On top of that, the latter burst of speed features a pretty good guitar solo for what it is, but it does end up working with the sudden shift in tempo, bringing it back down to the slower pace once more. These also make for some of stronger head banging moments of the release, and a welcome changing of the album’s pace and tone.
But with that said, there are still plenty of solid tracks here that will have your head bobbing along as if in a hypnotic trance to the music. There’s nothing here that will keep you on the edge of your seat, so songs the have a stronger focus on the slower pace are great to just kick back and unwind to, especially with some of the longer tracks. Anguish manages to keep the material they play rather fresh from start to finish with a good deal of variety, which is also where some of the sudden or nicely shifted changes to speed come into play. “Dawn of Doom” is one of the longer tracks here, coming in at nine minutes and fifteen second, and it maintains a pretty steady pace forward, jumping between the slower to mid-tempo passages, as well as includes some cleaner singing towards the end that feels more like a helpless harmonized chant in a more epic manner, though still a little restrained from hitting that grand a scale. “The Veil” also touches the listener in a far more dismal and melancholic manner. But, with that atmosphere comes a far more energetic vocal performance that really just makes the song a little demanding and attention grabbing than it would be otherwise. This track ends with dripping water that brings back the dank tone of the music that could be felt earlier on without the ambient effect, ushering in the cold twelve-minute climactic track “Morbid Castle” nicely. This song has plenty of catchy guitar hooks going on throughout, plenty of shifts in speed, and there’s a background spoken word segment that feels haunting and perfectly suits the tone of the music.
There isn’t really much else to be said about Through the Archdemon’s Head, and really it was hard to talk about it the first time through. Anguish is far from a bad band, but there’s nothing too unique or original going on with this release. The atmospheres seem to shift a lot, but still retain that dark, hopeless vibe with a very sinister presence. Through the Archdemon’s Head is a solid album none-the-less that you can just kick back and unwind to, even when the music does pick up. Fans of the Doom Metal genre will definitely embrace the album for what it is, and find the quality through its entire fifty-nine minute life span worth checking out.
01. (Intro) Through the Archdemon’s Head – 2:47
02. Book of Fox – 6:12
03. When the Ancients Dare to Walk – 6:19
04. Dawn of Doom – 9:15
05. Lair of the Gods – 7:06
06. Illusive Damnation – 7:01
07. The Veil – 8:22
08. Morbid Castle – 12:03
|Overall Score: 7.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Dark Descent Records via Clawhammer PR.