Simply titled I, Chicago stoner/thrash outfit Arbogast this year releases their debut full length album, after more than 3 years of insanity. Stoner metal is often thought of as being related to such genres as doom or heavy metal, and admittedly Arbogast is the first band that I encounter that boasts having thrash influences, amongst many others in their brand of stoner/sludge metal and it sure has gotten me pretty excited.
The calm introductory track Black with Birds easily tricks the listener into mistaking Arbogast for an ambient band, and the album artwork certainly does not help things. But soon enough the band gets things moving with Final Throes, and the rather fuzzy quality of the guitars and the riffs of guitarist Mike are all of high quality stoner metal, with bassist Aaron providing the low ends in the music, creating a extremely well-rounded sound. And these are accompanied by rather tortured shouts, at times even bringing in a slight punk feel. Drummer Mike also shines on the record, especially with the versatility that he displays in his drumming, ranging from rather simple, yet energetic punkish style to a more thrashy, fast-paced one.
As the album progresses, the difficulty in really putting Arbogast into a particular genre becomes evident as I presents a melting pot full of different influences, from the sludgy, doom-paced segments that the band tends to go into, to the energetic, fast-paced thrashy segments that are on tracks like Unnamed Guns that even brings in a slight Bay Area thrash sound to the mix. The band also does not leave out the melodic side of their songwriting, with each of the tracks’ melodies evoking different emotions in the listener, from completely desolation on Blastamous to a perceived shimmer of hope on Unnamed Guns.
There are many bands who have attempted such a feat of throwing influences from the most unthinkable genres at the opposite ends of the metal spectrum, and have failed rather miserably with messy-sounding results. Yet Arbogast manages to prove not only their knowledge of their stuff, but their songwriting abilities throughout the record constantly throws surprises at the listener at the same time. Even the chaos that the band brings in the music end up sounding like an organised mess, like on Forming the Flock, ensuring that no one is left confused, and is completely satisfied at the end of the album.
Who cares what genre Arbogast should be thrown in? All I know is that this album has become a daily album to listen to since my first exposure, satisfying the craving for whatever genre that one is itching for.