This is Anguish’s debut full-length album (following the Dawn of Doom demo, released in 2010, and 2011’s split 7-inch with Black Oath). The press release that accompanied this stated that their influences are Candlemass, Pentagram and Black Sabbath. That’s all likely true, but it’s also a roundabout way of saying that Through the Archdemon’s Head sounds like what you would get if you played a Celtic Frost/Triptykon album at a lower RPM on your turntable. The vocalist, J. Dee, even does a fair impression of Tom G. Warrior’s delivery, down to the “Uh” on a few tracks. What’s missing that makes Celtic Frost and Triptykon so great is the atmospheric stuff. Anguish has a dark atmosphere but they’re really not exploring the possibilities where it comes to adding eerie effects or elements into their music. I can understand wanting to keep things within the realm of playability - if you can’t recreate a song live, you won’t be able to play it at a concert without backing tracks. Still, there are little things that you can do with your guitars and singing that can certainly add that feeling, from zoned-out clean vocals to acoustic guitar. It also helps to break up the monotony that you get when you have a standard formulation for your songs. This brings me to the second weakness on this album, the monotony aspect. One of the biggest hurdles a band has to face is having songs that stand on their own. Most Metal bands, be they Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash or any other kind, die by this sword. I couldn’t tell you how many albums I’ve owned that had ten different versions of the same song on them. Anguish has some good songs but a number of them, mostly located on the first half of the album, are similarly structured and also use the same basic chords, and if you weren’t paying attention, you’d think that it was one long track. The second half of the album is definitely better, but you still have to sit through half an hour of music before you get there. The standout cuts have to be “The Veil,” “Lair of the Gods” and “Morbid Castle.” Those are the ones that have the most atmosphere and also more distinctive sounds. If this is the direction the band’s going, I’m definitely going to be looking forward to their next album.
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