ARCHGOAT: Worship The Eternal Darkness
Release year: 2021
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Finnish Archgoat are – as surely just about everyone reading this knows – one of the iconic names of Finnish black metal, and one of those hugely influential bands who in the early 90’s helped shape black metal as we know it today. Having started out already in 1989, the band managed to release just a few demos and one EP, Angelcunt (Tales Of Desecration), before calling it quits in 1993.
Since their return in 2004, the band have had one of the more impressive comebacks. Since then, they’ve released a solid body of material that in quality at the very least equals their classic early 90’s material – and in my opinion, even exceeds it. Never straying too far from the blueprint they laid down early on, Archgoat have gone on to prove the old proverb that you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.
Archgoat’s style has always been a very primitive form of black metal in more ways than one. Purely musically, there is no finesse or sugarcoating here: no fancy melodies, no nice synths, nothing but brutal, boneheaded brutality. But stylistically, too, Archgoat can be characterised as primitive: their take on black metal comes from an era before the conventions of modern-day black metal were formed, and are very heavily influenced by turn-of-the-decade death metal. The vocals are a gruff, guttural croaking, and the guitars are down-tuned to a death metal pitch, but the buzz-sawing guitars and frenetic blast beats firmly anchor the musical form into black metal.
Their newest album, Worship The Eternal Darkness, does not stray from this tried-and-tested blueprint one iota. If you’ve heard the previous albums, you know what to expect. Complete with the usual ominous church bells in the background, the trio (two of whom are founding members) pound their way through ten tracks of classic, old black metal full of ill-foreboding occult atmospheres, satanic brutality and blasphemous rawness. Though Archgoat in no way renew their formula, they’ve cooked up another solid album from it.
In my opinion, Archgoat’s finest moment in all of their career is their previous album, The Luciferian Crown (2018); though aforementioned Angelcunt will always have a special place for me as the first Archgoat material I ever heard, I find that by and large Archgoat have managed to do what few have, and become better with age. Worship The Eternal Darkness isn’t quite the equal of The Luciferian Crown, but it doesn’t fall far behind – again testifying to the vitality and vitriol of the singular vision Archgoat have in their dark art.
With so little stylistic evolution from release to release, one could be forgiven for believing there’s little point in dishing out for yet another new Archgoat album. But hearing is believing, and Worship The Eternal Darkness quickly justifies its place in Archgoat’s discography. But then again, during 22 years of activity the band have released a mere five albums (plus a body of smaller releases): that’s hardly over-saturating the market.
Whilst not managing to one-up their previous album, the veteran band prove they’re still as vital and relevant as ever with Worship The Eternal Darkness. Maybe you can’t teach old dogs too many tricks, but if they do their old ones this well, that’s more than enough…