Hornets Of The Pogrom
posted on 4/2008 By:
Everyone else can pretty much give up right now. With Hornets of the Pogrom, the infamous Arghoslent have outstripped many of their peers to such a degree that it's almost unfair. Anyone who’s heard these guys’ prior two masterpieces, 1998’s Galloping Through The Battle Ruins and 2002’s Incorrigible Bigotry, already knows this band is capable of delivering some of the best death metal out there. But on Hornets of the Pogrom, Arghoslent step it up to a whole different level entirely, and I can honestly say that I’m floored by the results. If any album was ever worth a six year wait, this one is.
In those six years, no major changes have been made to the bluesy, melodic death metal formula that has given Arghoslent their trademark sound. Rather, that formula has been refined, polished, and perfected to a whole different level of cohesion and energy. I say melodic death metal, but we're not talking about the twin-guitar melodrama characteristic of the Gothenburg movement; these are expertly crafted, addictingly catchy melodies that positively glow with the glory of epic, old-school heavy metal. In fact, Hornets of the Pogrom contains more melody than either of the first two albums, but it's all so beautifully written that I doubt anyone will be clamoring for more “brutal riffs.”
Speaking of brutal, Genocider’s vocals are more guttural, well-timed, and intelligible than anything we've heard from this band vox-wise, adding even more to the catchiness of the album’s choruses (such as the fantastic opener “In Coffles They Were Led”). And the drumming is a giant middle-finger in the face of all the never-changing, over-bearing “technicality” that has been plaguing the death metal scene over the last few years. Dynamic, inventive, and always sensitive to what the other instruments are doing, this is one of my favorite drum performances on a modern death metal album. The blast beats are old-school, the double-kicks are thunderous, and this guy knows how to groove--a trait absent in most of today’s blastaholics.
But, like all their releases in the past, it’s the riffs and transitions that really elevate this album to legendary proportions. If you know Arghoslent then you are already well-aware of their prestigious riffing talent, but the material here is way beyond anything the outfit has written in the past. When viewed as a whole, every song on Hornets of the Pogrom is a methodical clinic in no-bullshit, quality songwriting. If there was one minor complaint I had with Incorrigible Bigogtry, it was that some of the transitions were a little awkward considering how strong the individual riffs were (thinking of "The Purging Fires of War" and the title track specifically). It's in this area that the long period the band has had to work on these songs, and how long they’ve had to gel as a unit, pays off the most. There’s just not a riff to be found here that’s less than spectacular, and the melodic and non-melodic segments are offset to damn-near perfection.
When you really sit down and listen to the godly riff at the beginning of “Swill Of The Knaves,” the seamless transitions from pummeling odd-time death metal to heart-wrenching, almost blackened melody in “Dog and Broom,” and the catchy mid-paced groove of "The Grenadier," its hard to argue that this is some of the most passionate, well-written melodic death metal ever recorded. Songs like “The Nubian Archer” and “Oracle Of the Malefic Rhizome” could be on an album by themselves, and that album could still rank near the top of my year-end list. And how about the blistering, soulful guitar solos on the instrumental title-track?! I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard leads that tantalized my metal senses like the leads on that song. And these are just a scant couple of moments in a forty-plus-minute album of non-stop metal supremacy (no pun intended) from a band who's become seriously formidable in their raw songwriting talent.
This is just great heavy metal music in every sense. You have every right to hate Arghoslent because of their racist ideology, and I completely understand those who do. But at the same time, I can't help but pity the fool who denies themselves the sheer joy of listening to this album on that basis alone. On a technical level (musicianship, production) Hornets of the Pogrom is without flaw. On a compositional level, it's not flawless, but it's about as close as any album I’ve come across. After hearing a work of this caliber, which makes this year’s big-time releases by more modern, technical bands like Origin, Hate Eternal, and Arsis sound tepid and sterile by comparison (here comes the hate mail), its become clear that Arghoslent is easily one of the best projects active in the current extreme metal scene; in my opinion, the best. Hornets of the Pogrom is a masterpiece that deserves nothing less than a perfect score, and to be remembered as a crowing achievement in melodic death metal in years to come.
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