Through the Archdemon's Head
posted on 1/2012 By:
Like fire brings heat, like lightning brings thunder, like the sun brings day, Sweden’s Anguish brings doom. The band’s full-length debut, Through the Archdemon’s Head, is fifty seven minutes of pure, skull-crushing doom metal in the fine Swedish tradition.
Being that Anguish is a Swedish doom band, comparisons to Candlemass are inevitable, but in this case, they're justified. There is more than a little Leif Edling in the mournfully melodic riffs that haunt Through the Archdemon’s Head. As somber and sorrowful as Candlemass can be, however, Anguish makes that band sound positively upbeat. Anguish is Candlemass without all the bells and whistles. That is not to say that Anguish is a poor man’s Candlemass, but rather that Anguish’s music is doom distilled to greater purity: slower, heavier and more punishing.
If comparisons to Candlemass bring to mind the soaring, operatic vocals, I had best disabuse you of any such notions as they pertain to Anguish before we go any further. Anguish frontman J. Dee’s wretched croak sounds like the product of an unholy union between Abbath and Tom G. Warrior. Objectively speaking, J. Dee’s voice is awful, but charmingly so, the sort of awful one could learn to love, and his voice is, if nothing else, very anguished. In any case, the rest of the performances on Through the Archdemon’s Head are of such a quality as to earn a little forbearance with regard to the vocals.
The tracks on Through the Archdemon’s Head are long, almost ponderously slow, and the hooks are few and far between. Yet, these songs do not aimlessly wander; every track marches inexorably toward some sort of climax, and these climaxes are all the more effective for the long hard road to them. And a hard road it is: The somber melodies that thread their way through the album offer naught but false comfort, because Anguish keeps the doomhammer close to hand and with it strikes crushing blows. Anguish cannot seem to go more than two bars without bringing a massive chord down upon your unfortunate skull.
Amidst Through the Archdemon's Head's sprawling, oppressive doom, there are brief moments of brilliance that prove the most memorable and affecting: After five and a half minutes of sullen trudging, the 18 seconds of up-tempo, double bass-accompanied soloing in “Lair of the Gods” is positively exhilarating. When J. Dee drops a couple well placed Tom G. Warrior-styled grunts into “Illusive Damnation” as it winds up for a thundering mid-paced gallop, it is just the catalyst to instigate full-on whiplash. And finally, the sinister trills that punctuate the lumbering riff in "Morbid Castle" perfectly accent the track’s seething malevolence.
With Through the Archdemon’s Head, Anguish has crafted a monstrous slab of classic doom. This album is not for the faint of heart, not for the neophyte; this is for the die-hards with iron skulls and lead in their veins. This is DOOM.
Register to post comments.