Argorok – Usurpator
Release date: 20/11/2020
Running Time: 48:02
Review by Dark Juan
Hello, minions. I no longer know what day it is. The days just merge into one long constant grind interrupted only by the joyous inky blackness of sleep. I’m completely sober (there is an unopened bottle of whiskey sitting in the kitchen, which is fucking unheard of at my gaff) and I am just seated upon my couch, staring into the ineffable darkness and contemplating a life well wasted. Not because I have been disporting myself in a genial and self-destructive fashion as is my wont of a Yuletide, but more because I’m fucking shattered from work. Two consecutive 96-hour work weeks, followed by an upcoming third and the running around that normally happens around the False God’s illegitimate son’s birthday have wiped me out, hence the reason why I have not been quite so productive and cheerful as I usually am, for which I can only profusely apologise, not least to our esteemed Editor, Metal Monarch and all-round good egg Richard “You Had Better Write Something Soon Or I’ll Tear Your Nipples Off” Tilley…(The bloody cheek – Rick)
Note: Mrs Dark Juan just asked who I was writing about and looked confused when I said Argorok. She said Aga-Rock? Do they sing about large country homes and equally large stoves? I will take care of her later…
In other news, 2020 has been a bit of a motherfucker hasn’t it? Can’t wait to see the back of the twat, to be honest, but it has been a vintage year for underground metal. I’ve not been this excited about the music for a long time and it just seems to be getting better and better. May 2021 see the back of this unprecedented pandemic (it will happen sooner if you all JUST FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES FOR A BIT) and we can actually go out and have gigs again.
So, having dragged the ancient and recalcitrant magic electronic box of tricks from the dank cupboard of its semi-retirement, I am listening to the stylings of a new German beat combo named Argorok. The estimable Rick added this to my review list because he thought I might enjoy it, as I am somewhat of a fan of Neue Deutsche Härte and the German language, being as Argorok’s style can best be described as the result of a filthy, perverse drunken liaison between death metal and Neue Deutsche Härte, having been egged on to do so by folk metal and industrial. Then power metal stopped for a quick look before shuffling off home, disgusted but also desperate for a frenzied wank. So it is an eclectic mix of styles – obviously there is a large element of Neue Deutsche Härte, with the mid paced marching tempo – immediately I am reminded of Eisbrecher, Rammstein and Megaherz with the industrial perfection of the riffing and with the frequently staccato keyboards stabbing through the heavily produced guitar sound, but they differ from those three NDH luminaries by veering off piste into the black runs of power and folk metal – the middle eight of ‘Königin der Asche’ being a notable and very groovy demonstration of this. The keyboards are of note because they frequently add a second line of melody and gorgeousness beneath crushing heaviness – more often than not there are lovely little piano melodies hiding in darkened corners and the keys also act as a second rhythm instrument in concert with the guitar – a fine example of this is on ‘Kalter Stein’. ‘Katharsis’ is also interesting as it contains a short sitar passage. Yes, a fucking sitar!
The vocal is also interesting to your erstwhile correspondent, as it is a full-blooded death metal roar in the classic style, but utilising the German language. Now, those of you that frequently follow the bollocks I write, and appear to keep getting away with against all the odds, will note that I am something of a fan of the German language, regarding the guttural nature of it as a perfect fit to the industrial base of Neue Deutsche Härte. I am pleased to report that it sounds absolutely fucking uncompromisingly murderous when you hear a death metal vocal sung in German – vocalist Boa has a set of lungs and a throat seemingly constructed from angle iron, gorse bush thorns and sulphuric acid which only enhances the experience for he is a fine vocalist, capable of singing cleanly with a gravelly deliver y or full-on bowel shaking churn. Bassist and programmer Bill also has a very appealing death scream which underpins the main vocal nicely…
So, we are being unremittingly positive here, aren’t we? We can’t possibly have that for too long and there are some faults that need rectifying – The sequenced drumming sounds far too artificial and soulless on the metal passages, although it is a bonus for interesting patterns on the more outlandish parts of the record, for example ‘Meister Der Lügen’ which appears to take the form of a nursery rhyme before going to some very dark places indeed. And there are times when the guitar overwhelms everything else. There are also other times when the Neue Deutsche Härte overpowers the more interesting parts of the music. That’s a shame because Argorok have a LOT of potential to be even better than they are already. Don’t get me wrong – I love this band because I love industrial, NDH and interesting influences and German vocals but they could be even BETTER if they dialled back the metal and went to more experimental places. The Machinist and Fractal Generator have a lot to answer for regarding this as they have totally blown away all opposition as far as experimenting with the death metal sound goes – Argorok aren’t quite at that level yet, but the potential is there, because “Usurpator” is entertaining as fuck and if you love Rammstein, OOMPH!, Megaherz et al, you’ll be pretty pleased with Argorok.
To quickly summarise, I like this band a lot, but it’s a pretty raw product. With some work it could be truly ground-breaking.
Meine Herren von Argorok, ich liebe Ihre Band und Ihre Musik.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das Patentierte Dark Juan Blutspritzer-Bewertungssystem – I’m not apologising, I fucking love doing that in different languages) awards Argorok 8/10 for a flawed but still most worthy album, and one that will be in fairly constant rotation in the Mighty Gothikpanzer (which has split an intercooler pipe somewhere. The bastard.)
Tracklist (With helpful and probably hilariously inaccurate translations):
01. Aus Der Tiefe (From The Depths)
02. Protector (Do I really have to translate this for an English audience?)
03. Odyssee (Fairly self-explanatory as well.)
04. Refugium (This ain’t even German so I’m not playing)
05. Königin der Asche (Queen Of Ashes)
06. Kalter Stein (Cold Stone)
07. Hinter Der Maske (Behind The Mask)
08. Katharsis (Erm, yeah. You can work that out for yourselves too)
09. Meister Der Lügen (Master Of Lies)
10. Tag Des Zorns (Day Of Anger)
Boa – Vocals
Andy – Guitar
Bill – Bass, programming, backing vocals
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