Archgoat: Heavenly Vulva (Christ’s Last Rites)

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Archgoat: Heavenly Vulva (Christ’s Last Rites)
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Archgoat: Heavenly Vulva (Christ's Last Rites)
Black Metal, Death Metal
Debemur Morti Productions
October 14th, 2011
Release length: 16:04
Myspace
Website
Archgoat is about as underground in the Black Metal scene as you’re going to get. This Turku, Finland based Black and Death Metal group formed back in 1989, but only issued a few smaller releases, including the infamously titled Penis Perversor demo tape in 1993, and their only actual non-demo recording titled Angelcunt (Tales of Desecration) shortly after before breaking up that same year. After ten years of silence, Archgoat returned to the shadows of the underground, releasing their first two full-lengths in the coming years, and a few more smaller releases. For 2011, Debemur Morti Productions has picked the band up to issue their latest EP, Heavenly Vuvla (Christ’s Last Rites). Given the steady amount of relatively good press towards their work, can one assume this will be another decent effort from the group, or does this actually make for one of their stronger offerings to date?

Well, in keeping with the underground style of the band, the audio to Heavenly Vuvla (Christ’s Last Rites) is pretty raw, as well as plays more along the bludgeoning sensations of the Death Metal style. The mixture of Black Metal into this presence sounds good, giving the music a sinister yet brutalizing feel. The latter of those two sensations feels pushed even further thanks to the vocals largely being gutturals with deeper snarling that one might attribute largely to Brutal Death Metal recordings with the bass amped up and sound more animal then remotely human, though never venturing into the pig squeel territory thankfully. The guitars here that slight sharper sound to them with a Black Metal distortion present, though coming through more like it is with a really low tuned guitar to work with the deep and loud bass presence on the recording. These two create a very crushing sound that works so well with the Mortician-esque style of deep distorted gutturals, but still allows room for some songs like “Day of Clouds” to give off a truly depressing atmosphere. The drums here sound great and really keep to the general pace of the song without going too overboard, but filling the slower and mid-tempo paces well. The snares sound pretty loud and more natural then anything, though the thuds to the bass kicks do sound a little lost in the mix wit the snares, as well as the bass guitar ultimately drowning them out a lot. The cymbols do stand out nicely though, being just the right level that they make an impact without being too commanding and outdoing the brutal sound of the guitars to the recording.

But, with such a good sound for a raw recording, it’s actually a bit of a let down knowing the effort is just over sixteen minutes. The EP starts off with the traditional “Intro” track that eats up a little more then a minute, having some rumbling sound effects that come off like thunder building up with backwards dialogue layered over it. This does a good job at establishing the atmosphere to the release as “Blessed Vulva” kicks in. The deeper vocals may take listener by surprise expecting more of a Black Metal presence from this band on their first time listening, as well as may take others a bit to get adjusted to, but overall the faster pace of the song really works with the overall dark and brutal atmosphere of the music. The song does drift in and out of that faster pace to slower, haunting passages that do come off genuinely creepy and feel natural to the song at the same time, taking advantage of some keyboard effects that are rather simple, but all the time just never letting up on the listener. This is essentially how the final track of the EP is set up too. “Passage to Millennial Darkness” makes for another faster song, and it too falls in and out of the speed to the crawling, creepier tones but thanks to the guitars instead of some simpler keyboard material being performed.

These are not the only faster tracks on this release either, but they are the two that stand out the most through the more obviously placed haunting elements. “Goddess of the Abyss of Graves” actually becomes more important then any other track, as the mixture of Black Metal influences that lay distinctly against the quicker and heavier Death Metal overtones are blended so well together with the speed naturally shifting between them quite a number of times without feeling like they are handled this way specifically to include some haunting simpler keyboards to give it a creepier vibe. The song’s main focus here is simply intensity and brutality, and Archgoat actually does a good job at it, especially in the end when it picks up and even the vocals seem to shift along with what’s being played, allowing for more snarling and inhuman sounds to make their way through without becoming stereotypes from the Brutal Death Metal style. Of course, with a name like “Penetrator of the Second Temple” wouldn’t be complete with the sounds of a woman moaning during intercourse with a growing louder bass tone in the background before a bestial scream can be heard, hammering into the most ruthless track of them all in both the fast and slow sections that shift constantly through it’s shorter length, but still feel right.

Of all the songs here, despite the fact that each track does have a repetitive foundation of fast pace, slow pace, back to fast pace, the song “Day of Clouds” really feels out of place and ends up being one of the less entertaining tracks of the song. Again we find the haunting elements coming into play, but this time instead of a keyboard going for a haunting church bell. The pace of the song remains at the slower, crawling speed from start to finish without really alterring anything. The music itself is not bad and ends up being rather enjoyable to an extent, but it just doesn’t really seem to pack that same aggressive sound the rest of the material has, and ends up being a little more bland then anything else.

If you’re a fan of Archgoat or just really brutalizing Black Metal or Death Metal, then this release will definitely peak your interest. There’s enough songs on here that make it an EP to take a look at, but the more traditional “Intro,” despite it’s setting the atmosphere, as well as “Day of Clouds” not being anything too spectacular or properly fitting to the release’s atmosphere, though still being good for what it is, greatly hurts the EP considering the short life span it has. The songs also seem to be a bit formulaic, and had some just not dropping in and out of speed to feed that template on four of the five songs, it would have made for some additional interesting variety to the release. In the end, it’s a strong effort that does have it’s faults, but they won’t hold you back too much from enjoying this effort as much as you really want to.

01. Intro – 1:07
02. Blessed Vulva – 3:11
03. Goddess of the Abyss of Graves – 3:08
04. Penetrator of the Second Temple – 3:08
05. Day of Clouds – 3:29
06. Passage to Millennial Darkness – 2:33
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Debemur Morti Productions.