Review: Argesh – Excommunica

I keep getting awed by the sheer amount of bands that populate the amazing world of metal music. I bet you can play metal non-stop for a hundred years, 24 hours a day and still never play the same band twice. This means there’s a whole lot of new and potential great tunes to be discovered out there, which is exactly why I started reviewing in the first place. Now, although the release of my next subject, Argesh, is their maiden release, the word new actually only applies to the release itself. The band itself has been around for a while, since 2010 to be more precise, and the actual album took five years to complete and ripen. So, since being formed there basically has been total radio silence around this Varese, Italy based black metal quartet, that apparently consists of bassist/keymaster Azghal, drummer/guitarist/vocalist HHG and guitarists Nezer and Il Rakshasa. I’d like to see them juggle this division of roles on stage, but that is beside the point here. Like I have said earlier, Argesh plays black metal, more specific a type they themselves describe as extreme, solemn, majestic and uncompromising Apostate Black Metal. So I guess have to prepare for black metal without the religious aspect then. The name of the release, due to its length of a little over half an hour technically an EP, is Excommunica.

As much as I usually oppose to pointless, endless, uninspired, unoriginal, lame intros, this time I’m expertly gagged by album opener Abiura (abjure). The incredibly dark, oppressing atmosphere this trailer breathes is a more than excellent introduction to what, in hindsight, turns out to be a dark wall of intense black metal. The mean vocals that express a clear and unambiguous message deepen the unsettling feeling that insurmountably creeps up on you. A perfect start, and one that gets a sequel in Suffocate in Oxygen. The pressing force this song unleashes on you, led by some seriously thunderous drums that dominate the mix quite severely, is overpowering. If its sheer power hadn’t kicked you back in the cage you originate from it would certainly blow you away. The string work effortlessly matches the drum’s musical destruction and violence and HHG’s mean sounding rasping vocals add even more insult to injury although the clean part seems a bit off. Despite claiming to be an apostate band, the lyrical theme, not just here but throughout the release, pretty much seems to evolve around the vile things we do, or rather think we are allowed to do, in the name of religion and, the other way around, what religion is capable of letting us do. So quite an accusation towards the unconditional belief in and submission to a deity. But that aside.

The overwhelming intensity and pressure this songs breathes is transferred to successor Source of Miracles that is equally oppressing, if not even more. The demonic growls that complete the unnerving intro to the song is amazing! The band seems to have traded some of their melodiousness for violence, pushing their tunes even more towards the darkest corners of the metal world. The, again, massive drum lines form the heavy frame that is, again, expertly filled by the guitars, bass and vocals. The unexpected break near the end is a bonus. Another behemoth of a song. Next up is Praelatorum pedophilia (don’t even go there…) which continues along the expected path Argesh has chosen to follow, although its overall feeling is one of slightly less darkness and oppression. Not that it can be called a point of rest to gather your crushed bones and recover, unless you call the undoubtedly derisive religious chant a point of rest, but still. A word of advice: grab your moment if you can, because Apocalypse 20.7-8-9, the next song, will hit you where it hurts with another unrelenting force of angry, vicious drums and ditto guitars and bass. Needless to see HHG’s guttural contribution perfectly underlines all this violence, regardless whether it’s his foul growls or his devote reciting of, among others, the judgment of Satan. Completely in style it ends with a bang. That marks the start of the album closer, The Elohim’s Mark. This is quite a different song compared to the previous four, proving the guys are capable of playing a different style as well, although the word different must be used loosely here as they never stray far from their black metal roots. In fact, this has just as many interfaces with black metal as all the other songs, they simply touch in different areas. The buildup of this song is almost majestic and it’s clear the dark atmosphere is abandoned for a bit. Regardless the different vibe this too is an awesome composition in which particularly HHG’s clean(er) vocals and more classic black metal rasp draw the attention. Here too the drums are quite prominent though and the guitars and bass get their fifteen minutes of fame just as much.

As the album closer fades out I’m left with a feeling of exhaustion, albeit one of the good kind. Argesh produced a huge, immersive, impressively intense wall of greatly composed sound that will drain all energy from you and exchange it for a feeling of total satisfaction in just thirty demanding minutes. In case you haven’t figured it out yet: I totally dig this! These guys are now on my high priority list of bands to keep an eye out for. Although five years is a long time for those that crave for more, I am certainly willing to endure that if that is needed to get an end result as impressive as Excommunica is. For now, however, this won’t be off my playlist for quite some time. Best consumed at high volume levels, this one will leave a lasting mark on your soul!

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