By Lisa Burke
February 22nd 2017, The Roxy, West Hollywood CA: How do you make sure you are having the best time of your heavy metal life? Well, thanks to Church Of The 8th Day, you can start by attending two European fronted black metal shows within a week’s time. It had been a fair amount of time since the last time I attended a show at the Roxy in West Hollywood, and on February 22nd 2017, I made my return appearance for Archgoat with support from Valkyrja, Hellfire Deathcult, and Volahn.
First of all, you know you are at a black metal show when you overhear security say “everyone here is going to set off the metal detector” and that is correct because we are the metal, so the only competition then becomes seeing who is the most metal of them all. After I claimed my prize, I went inside to see a line at the merch booth and a fair amount of dark shadows lurking in the darkness watching the dark magic of Volahn. The levels for the first two bands were way off and fuzzed out, so judging these bands fairly on their music when you couldn’t hear half of what was being played was tough to say the least. The Roxy stage also faces at an angle and oddly if you are on one side of the room versus the other the sound is also completely different. I definitely stood in the not-so-clear sounding spot for the first two bands, however once the two main acts took the stage, much was improved and I was finally free to let loose and just enjoy the tunes instead of wondering what I was missing by the levels being off.
Back to Volahn, they had keyboard moments happening that seemed as if they should have been a fun and interesting part of this set, but I only heard it when it was the only part being played. The echo effects on the vocals was also a nice touch though again slightly dubbed down. This quintet’s brand of speedy blackened death metal was decent enough, all the pieces seemed solid, and the sporadic creativity was there. I definitely would be game to catch them with the proper levels in place to see how much cleanliness was actually a part of the music.
Moving on to a great name for a Chicago based trio, Hellfire Deathcult ransacked the stage in their hoodie and ski mask attire. This band was slightly out of the theme in my opinion for a primarily black metal show, as this was not your average black metal and to me seemed much more death with slight black metal into the vocals that the guitarist and bassist harmonized over at times. The guitar was so low that it was either missing the point or confusing the audience with the style of music at hand. Something wasn’t working in their favor besides just the sound quality, but I really would prefer a second chance to properly assess them.
Now onto the first highlight of the adventure, Valkyrja, an absolutely brutal black metal band from Sweden, made their mark on the Roxy stage. As a band that has only thirteen years in its existence they really get that old-school, purest-of-the-pure black metal sound out there with their own modern twist. It is refreshing to hear this music still being made as well crafted as they are able to execute it, and other than the singer setting off the mood in a dark magical cloud of chalk smoke, the antics were kept to a minimum and the music was the driving force as it should be in this case. They looked the part without overdoing it and the hair whipping tied it all together in the best metal way. All elements from the riffage to the vocals to the blast beats were on the highest level of excellence and despite a few minor sound mishaps they blasted through the performance with the darkest part of their souls exposed. They quickly planted a deep spot in my pure black metal loving heart and I am excited to hear more from them in the future.
Around this time at the start of the pre-witching hour of drunken metal heads, who by the way seemed at a bare minimum as black metalling is a rather serious sport that rarely results in violence of any nature, there happened to be that one young unhappy drunk soul. This unnamed black metaller was denied access to the show for whatever reason, most likely level of intoxication, and was having a lovely conversation with the bouncer that included wishing upon his disintegration as well as acquiring stage four cancer. As I said before, black metal is a serious matter and access denied clearly results in some drastic measures for some young drunk people. No one should ever wish cancer on another human, of course, but nonetheless I couldn’t make this story up if I tried.
Then the second highlight and finale of the night came in the form of upside down cross black metal face painted Finnish band Archgoat, who specialize in the super killer high hat to bass kick to snare and back blast beats for days. They are lightning speed black metal at times, and if Satan had a band of demons, these guys would be in it with all their brutally long spiked arm guards. Formed in 1989 and not looking a day over twenty-five, these brothers Angelslayer and Ritual Butcherer are at it again, bringing the fiercest black metal massacre to come from Finland. The live experience is a huge breakup from the monotony that can sometimes overwhelm the average album listener. They bring their A-game and the presence with the live creative drumming and appropriate use of backing tracks really is all the rage it’s cracked up to be. Since it was only a Wednesday, the crowd seemed to dissipate a touch early, but I became fully engaged and hashed it out till the bitter end. This is definitely one of those bands that is almost too intense for moshing, but it definitely encourages you to not stay in one spot while listening. Once you get through the rapid drum fire, underneath is a whole other layer of brutally crafted blasphemous vocals and intricately speedy riffage. Starting off strong with the tune ‘Nuns, Cunts, and Darkness’ you know very well that you can expect an explicitly rampant journey through hell that leaves you wishing you could stay in the fiery darkened land forever.
While we may live in an unsettling world most of the time, we need to allow ourselves an exciting otherworldly escape, and European black metal has the answer to your Satanic prayers if only you seek them. Also, black metal has life outside of Satan and can be appreciated as a style of music no matter what your religious preferences are. So, make that crawl outside of your coffin, live a little, and support the black metal scene because for some of us it is the way of life and strength in the form of black duct tape to a withering and damaged soul.
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Archgoat set list:
01. Nuns, Cunts and Darkness
02. Lord of the Void
03. Death and Necromancy
04. Apotheosis of Lucifer
05. Grand Luciferian Theophany
06. Black Messiah
07. Blessed Vulva
08. Goat and the Moon
09. The Apocalyptic Triumphator
10. Day of Clouds
11. Goddess of the Abyss of Graves
12. Rise of the Black Moon
13. Hammer of Satan
14. Penis Perversor
16. Thrice Damned Sodomizer (Streams of Blood)
Remaining Tour Dates:
02/26/2017 – San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room
02/27/2017 – Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar
02/28/2017 – Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
03/01/2017 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
03/02/2017 – Dallas, TX @ Curtain Club
03/03/2017 – Austin, TX @ Grizzly Hall
03/04/2017 – San Antonio, TX @ Korova
03/05/2017 – Tulsa, OK @ Downtown Lounge
03/06/2017 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
03/07/2017 – Denver, CO @ Roxy Theatre
03/08/2017 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Metro
03/09/2017 – Boise, ID @ Shredder
03/10/2017 – Portland, OR @ Star Theater
03/11/2017 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
03/12/2017 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theater