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Arbogast - "I" (CD)

Arbogast - "I" CD cover image

"I" track listing:

1. Black with Birds (1:41)
2. Final Throes (5:27)
3. Unarmed Guns (5:15)
4. Blasfamous (2:53)
5. Forming the Flock (3:57)
6. Behind the Guise (4:20)
7. The Victor the Fallen (5:03)
8. Dethroned (3:18)
9. Suffrage (1:47)
10. Will & Destruction (3:54)
11. Soulsfate (5:12)

Reviewed by on January 11, 2013

"Arbogast is hard to pin down with their eclectic sound, but they are able to take a multitude of genres and work them into an album of compelling material."

December is a graveyard for new releases, as people focus on finishing their “Best Of” lists and get worked up over which bands will be releasing albums over the next year. No matter how noteworthy an album may be, releasing it so close to the end of any year makes it possible that it’ll be forgotten amidst the chaos of the holiday season. That’s why January is favorable to give some of the albums passed over a shot, and Arbogast’s debut album “I” is a late 2012 record that deserved a better fate than an early December release date.

“I” is a peculiar album, acting like a thrashed-up take on stoner metal. This is not an album that can be defined by one or two tracks, and that’s definitely to the band’s advantage. The Hammond organ introduction “Black With Birds” is a different take on the opening instrumental, its sullen notes setting the barren atmosphere that defines the other ten tracks. The songs mostly segue into each other, giving “I” a conceptual tone that makes the whole album as important as its separate parts.

“Final Throes” and “Blasfamous” excel in a sludgy/stoner manner, rampaging with harmonic guitars and a ravenous attitude. This is further bolstered when the thrash is unleashed, as it is during the invigorating “Unarmed Guns.” There’s even some room for blast beats and a metallic hardcore fury, like on the two-minute cut “Suffrage.” Arbogast has a harmonious chemistry between the three members, and they write music that doesn’t appear to be a simple retread of well-established acts or a trendy style.

Not being able to define “I” into a typical stereotype is supplemented by several off-beat tunes, like the acoustics that pop up in the midst of the noisy intro to “Behind The Guise.” It’s one of the first instances of some actual melody, and this is felt again with the satisfying catchiness of “Will & Destruction.” The bitter screams are cleaned up, and the primary riff is strictly acoustic. The band also pulls a dynamic instrumental out of “Soulsfate” to end the record on a high mark.

This time of the year is slow for album releases, so with some extra time comes a chance for “I” to find its audience in a new year. Arbogast is hard to pin down with their eclectic sound, but they are able to take a multitude of genres and work them into an album of compelling material. “I” is a complete album that should be given its full play from track one to eleven. This Chicago trio has their hands on something that could win them high praise, and lead to a series of excellent albums on par with “I.”

Highs: A thrashy take on stoner/sludge metal, hard to define, great chemistry between the trio, not content to stick to the same approach on every song

Lows: Cleaner tones used in the vocals are a mix bag

Bottom line: A leftover from 2012, "I" is an overlooked gem from the latter part of the year that should find a following before the bigger releases of 2013.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)