By Berneau van der Merwe
Over the years some awesome bands have been spawned from the cold eastern front that is Eastern Europe, bands like Nokturnal Mortem and Old Wainds jump to mind, another fine addition to the eastern hammers comes in the form of Arguss, formed in 2009 and based in Rivne, Ukraine. Not much is known about Arguss and I guess the band prefers it that way. Their debute full-length album titled Morok was released on the 26th of April, which evidently is the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe. Nice planning in my opinion.
I have always found that bands from the more eastern parts of Europe have their own way of doing black metal which ensures it is not as generic as some of the more Western European bands. Arguss has a very grindcore-like approach to their vocals, which is complimented by more guttering vocal work, along with blistering blast-beats and scolding-cold-like guitar riffs.
The album starts off with a very subtle intro, which does sent the mood beautifully to set up the Damnation track. It starts with some acoustic guitar work which is very subdued before breaking into a very up –tempo rhythm. The vocals are relentless and unforgiving as is the norm in black metal, but this has a distinct guttering edge to it. The atmosphere is pretty much established within the first few seconds after the intro fades out. The over all pace of the track goes down a notch and remains the same for the duration.
The short intros are a trend on a few tracks of the album, reflecting different aspects of nature, from running water to winds howling over the treetops. It does add something different to the over-all composition. The second track that took my fancy is titled “Morok”, which has probably the best intro of the album with some fine guitar work, which shows off the musical showmanship of the band as well as good cohesion between the various members.
The album consists of 9 tracks, which takes you on a journey throughout the scolding cold landscapes. The final three tracks of the album is basically one large track broken into three parts, two of which last about seven minutes and the final one lasts about 14 minutes. This is really something special that everyone that appreciates atmospheric black metal should experience. These tracks are titled “Under the Snow” with the prefix as is appropriate for the 3 parts. “Under the Snow – Part 3” is probably my favourite of the 3 and a real stand out track from the intro to the very last. These last 3 tracks remind me of a similar approach by a band called “Mg?a” which is also from Eastern Europe. So I do admire this style of composition.
Over all I feel that the atmosphere created by the album really is something special, however, I personally feel that the high-pitched vocals are a bit over done, yes, I feel it is a bit too harsh and it gets a bit too much as the album progresses. The music in itself is absolutely remarkable in terms of how it has been composed and put together to produce the end product. If you are into Black Metal and especially something with an atmospheric and ambient edge to it, definitely get this album; it will be well worth it.