There are few bands as devilishly committed to the black arts as Archgoat, a band who take the Antichristian phenomenon to new heights on each successive release and whose latest, and much anticipated EP, goes straight for the jugular, attacking Jesus and his mother with unimaginable ferocity and venom – something helped by the always welcome appearance of Satanic Warmaster’s Werewolf who appears to provide guest vocals.
A mini-CD, ‘heavenly Vulva’ (surely one of the more gloriously offensive album titles in recent years) is violent, pared-down-to-the-bone black metal. There are no frills here, no fancy production techniques, just the sound of searing hatred locked on to an identifiable target and let loose. The guitars are icy cold, simplistic and animalistic, the vocals a blackened smear that offer little clue as to the lyrics and the drums a rampaging, thunderous assault. It is not exactly a step forward in the world of Archgoat, nor is it more of the same – that would be like claiming that every battle in a war is the same – what we have here is a gentle refining of Archgoat’s attack, a streamlining that results in the band unleashing five tracks (as well as a brief intro) in little over 16 minutes, all of which successfully leave you wanting more. The first track proper is ‘blessed vulva’, a track that in the briefest of instances (a mere 3 minutes) rampages through multiple moods, opening on a furious, hyper-speed assault and closing on a doom-laden guitar riff that carries all the more weight behind it because of its slow tempo. Even more extreme is the corpse-raising horror of ‘Goddess of the abyss of graves’. The vocals here are nothing more than guttural belches, the guitars a waspish drone and yet the band vary things as the track progresses keeping attention firmly on the track and raising the pulse of any fan of the genre.
The music takes a backseat for a moment on ‘Penatrator of the second temple’ as we get to hear the sounds of a woman achieving orgasm with… could it be a goat? The power of the imagination is always heightened by the hard-to-define, so I’ll leave it to you to picture what the band were doing during this interlude. The track itself is probably the best on the album, a savage melee of snatched beats, devastating vocals and hateful guitars complete with a searing solo that cuts through the murk briefly but brilliantly. ‘Day of the clouds’ has a frightening low-end rumble and a doomy intro that stands at odds with the other tracks here and which offers a powerful counterpoint to the high-speed antics found elsewhere. Unremittingly brutal and bleak it offers little in the way of hope, the riffs a gathering storm cloud leading into the final track ‘passage to millennial darkness’ which rounds things out with a vicious two-minute exercise in fury that is practically grindcore in its simplistic savagery. It is the perfect ending to a short, painful blast of black metal at its finest.
Looking over Archgoat’s history, their hated of the commercial aspect of music and their utter contempt for religion it is hardly surprising that they have returned with an MCD of the highest standards. Fans will converge upon this release, simply overjoyed that the band have returned to action having endured a two year wait since the band’s last release, whilst those arriving at the band for the first time will find plenty to admire. Uncompromising, uncommercial and utterly committed, Archgoat are a band who embody the living spirit of black metal and are not to be approached lightly, but for those willing to embrace them, the rewards are many. A brutal, blackened gem, ‘Heavenly Vulva’ is available now on Debemur Morti records.