ArsGoatia- Hidden Amongst Humans (Album Review)

Feb. 28, 2023


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Austrian black metal band ArsGoatia was formed in 2012 by members of Daeth Daemon and Our Survival Depends On Us, and they have come roaring out of the gate with debut album Hiding Amongst Humans.  In a quick thirty-two-minutes the band weaves through scorching black metal and slower, methodical riffing that brings in some of the denser, mystical atmosphere that Our Survival Depends On Us offered on their albums.  While sometimes it does seem like the material flies by a little too quickly to fully realize all its ideas, ArsGoatia’s ability to channel this tense and haunting atmosphere alongside the fire and fury of second wave black metal makes a strong first impression.

Wasting no time on intros or build-ups, opener “Tongues Orifice Fire” launches directly into a fast-paced drumming and abrasive riffs that recall second wave black metal as well as some of the other German and Austrian bands from over the years.  It’s appropriately in your face and the tonality feels as though it can scorch everything in its path, but as the song progresses it’s clear that ArsGoatia has a bit more depth compared to some of the others in the genre that simply stick with this speed and fire for an entire album.  Around the two-minute mark the tempo slows down significantly and a haunting melody is layered over top that keeps the tension at a high but builds the atmosphere up.  The rest of this album continues this mix of straightforward, bludgeoning material and slower burning atmosphere, throwing in some short bursts of all-out violence on “Slay Burn Immolate”.  But it’s these slower burns that truly drew me into Hiding Amongst Humans, as “When Heresy Repeats Itself” and “Tyrant Of All Men” is where the instrumentation really finds its own footing.  The former expands outwards methodically with guitar and bass work that build up to some dense and suffocating atmosphere without needing to pick up the tempo much over its almost seven-minute run, while the latter lets the abrasive textures fade away towards the end in favor of haunting melodies that dance over top of the track.  ArsGoatia hasn’t approached this mystical, haunting atmosphere quite in the same way as Our Survival Depends On Us but you can hear some similarities, and even at this early stage it gives their take on black metal some unique nuances.  There is still room to expand upon these ideas though, as the shorter tracks don’t stand out quite as much and the band falls a bit too closely to a lot of other black metal when they’re blazing a more straightforward path.

There may be some moments where the instrumentals give the listener a brief respite from the abrasiveness, but the vocals remain intense from beginning to end.  That’s not to say that vocalist B.R. doesn’t vary up his performance though, as your first taste comes in the form of some downright unhinged sounding screams that remind me of labelmate Duivel, but a few minutes later he switches to lower screaming/yelling that gives off an almost death metal or doom feel.  ArsGoatia doesn’t stop there, with “When Heresy Repeats Itself” featuring distorted/whispered spoken word that leads into raspy screams and that come through like they’re drenched in blood.  No matter where the pitch goes, the performance is dripping with raw intensity and feels like it’s determined to tear you to pieces, which suits the sound the band is going for perfectly.

The transitions into softer melodic passages that have a mysterious yet still tense tone to them helps to elevate ArsGoatia above the average black metal newcomer, but it still feels like they’re just scratching the surface of what is possible.  When it comes to violence and unrelenting vocals and instrumentation, they’ve certainly got that down, but it’s the atmosphere and slight hints of other genres that have me intrigued and curious to see if they can expand upon it further on a longer album down the road.  But if this type of black metal speaks to you, definitely give this one a listen as it may just stick with you more than you expect.  Hiding Amongst Humans is available from Ván Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg