As we all know, many black metal bands like to stay under the radar. Some of them, like Finland’s Archgoat, refuse to use their real names, opting instead to go by Lord Angelslayer, Ritual Butcherer and Sinister Karpinnen. But they’ve also taken the idea much further; after releasing two demos and an EP in the early ’90s, the band began to argue with their label over musical direction—and rather than compromise, Archgoat simply quit. The band went on an 11-year hiatus, claiming they no longer wanted to be involved in commercial black metal.
However, the desecrators would eventually return with full-lengths Whore of Bethlehem, in 2006, and The Light-Devouring Darkness, in 2009. And now, after a six-year wait, they’ve released their third (and best) studio album, The Apocalyptic Triumphator. It’s an early contender for my Album of the Year pick.
The Apocalyptic Triumphator is an album in two parts. Side A is the “left hand path” while Side B is the “right hand path.” This is significant; theologically, the two paths are a dichotomy in Western esotericism in which the left signifies black magic and the right white, or benevolent, magic.
Archgoat clearly put a lot of effort into this distinction when writing an A-side/B-side-formatted album. Side A includes songs like, “Nuns, Cunts and Darkness,” “Phallic Desecrator of the Sacred Gates” and “Grand Luceferian Theopothy” while Side B includes songs like, “Sado-Magical Portal,” “Light of Phosphorous” and “Funeral Pyre of Trinity.” Thus, each side has its own clear theme and mood.
After a few too many listens in a row, the whole thing melts together into one enthralling work of blasphemy. Side A opens with an eerie organ piece, before then blasting your brains out of your ears with bludgeoning metal. Side B’s intro, however, features some sounds of a very distressed farm animal before “Congregation of the Circumcised” flies into swirling blast beats and volcano-like screams.
Overall, The Apocalyptic Triumphator is cohesive, consistent and powerful with percussion that pounds you like a team of hammers. Archgoat has forever been a fascinating and exciting band releasing terrific music but this album is truly their crown. Frankly, not listening to this thing would be blasphemy on a level worse than the band could ever hope to achieve.