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A competent, enjoyable slaying of the gods with room for improvement
Hailing from one of the northernmost regions of Italy, Argesh offer a whopping dose of crushing staccato rhythms and industrialized blasting, delivering a hefty package of monstrous intensity thrown at antiquated religious institutions and their offspring.
From the off-kilter songwriting with riffs and lead guitars repeatedly reminding of Demigod/Apostasy-era Behemoth and clean/semi-harsh vocals engrossed in a fair bit of special effects supporting the (dominant) growled ones – I’m getting some A New Kind of Horror Anaal Natraakh vibes here – down to the hyperfast, technical (albeit programmed) drumming, that could have been done by the same influental names, this is a mingle-mangle of extreme metal ingredients that bounce back and forth from the walls of your more colossal end of the death metal spectrum as well as the atmospheric tremolo-melodies of late 90s/early 00s black metal, perhaps resembling a less intrusive sounding Thorns. Throw a bit of Satan (not the band)-worship into the soup and et voila – Excommunica!
This might not be a recipe for the most original extreme metal sound these days, but it’s done competently enough to deserve some attention and the certain charm of growled hatred uttered in an indesputable Italian accent is not to be denied.
Indeed, the whole album feels meticulously crafted but holy hell, WHY did they not spend some more time on improving upon the quality of the drum machine? Argesh definitely put a lot of work into the programming of each individual part of their virtual skin-beater and yet it is by far the most glaring issue present on Excommunica. Their refusal to make it sound like it actually belongs into the mix of a modern extreme metal album is detrimental to the „epic“ part of the genre they place themselves in. At best, it ticks away in a low-key manner (only works when the overall pace is slower) but at worst it’s an ancient typewriter being hammered by a submachine gun when the blast beats begin firing on all cylinders. While the group tends to write very well around these parts, the recurring, monotone machine gun effect of the artificial snare drum most certainly tries to convince you otherwise. Drum-VST-Software has come a long way and is such a powerful tool now, perfectly acceptable and usable when you’re not able to record the real thing…so it’s under no circumstances understandable why they chose something that sounds like it had been gathering dust in a bargain bin.
It’s still not a dealbreaker though. Argesh are surely worth your time if you are craving for a modern black/death metal hybrid with a delicate sense for memorable melodies and the technical proficiency to add machine-like precision to some balls-out heavy riffage. If they manage to get around said flaw next time, either by recording real drums or using decent software on the follow up, we could be in for a treat since it’s really difficult to not hear the potential contained within Excommunica.
Highlights: Source of Miracles, The Elohim’s Mark
Release date: September 14th, 2021
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