PICK OF THE WEEK: Barghest’s hatred, disgust come in black waves on ‘The Virtuous Purge’

relic54Do you know what it’s like to have someone truly detest you? Or, have you ever been on the other side, with such a deep-seeded discomfort in or displeasure of another that it practically makes the bile rise up and choke you? Are you ever so disgusted by the ways of the world and the manner in which people have devolved and begun attacking each other’s character that it makes a black morning seem welcome?

Hopefully you never felt any of these things, because they are not pleasurable. If you have been in these situations, you probably will immediately connect with Barghest, the Baton Rouge, La.-based band that makes black metal sound like an exercise in pure disintegration of everything around them. A quick trip down another path: Black metal doesn’t sound like it used to, for the most part, as labels have figured out how to make it slick and appeal to the masses. There’s not much real hate and disgust left in the music. This is where we get back to Barghest, who have no problem letting every awful feeling contained within them out to gallivant and strike hard. It’s not against any particular person or movement, but against the world in general and what’s inside the place. Pay close enough attention to your surroundings, and you may realize the way people act can sicken you. Barghest clearly have been gagging long enough.

The band’s behemoth new record “The Virtuous Purge” has arrived, and like a great plague with no eyes for who it kills or any plans for who it infects, they’re here for us all. The follow-up to their basement dank, self-titled 2011 debut rages with power. For one thing, the production is higher grade, but not to a level where it sounds acceptable or pretty. It’s still chock full of violence and abuse, and it will hurt badly anyone not ready for it, but it does give the band a slightly crisper sound that is to their benefit. They also have more of a death metal edge this time around, proving they can be just as menacing in that terrain as in black metal. The alliance of guitarists/vocalists Dallas Smith and Jason Thorning, guitarist Matthew Thudium (also of Thou), and drummer Philth convinces you without a doubt of the black fury they feel deep inside of them, and you never have to ask yourself if what you’re hearing is nasty. You’ll know it right away, and if it scares you off, then maybe this kind of metal isn’t for you. I’m sure Best Buy will have something kick-ass to suit your needs and get you home safe and sound.

Opener “Our Last Night on Earth” doesn’t tear right into you. Instead, a wave of static leads into dark, mournful guitar work that sounds bleak and devoid of all hope It unfurls and hangs in the air. Naturally the bottom eventually falls out and the band starts hammering you with full force and utter violence, paying you a hellish visit. The song later turns back into a slow-driving storm, spilling into black guitars and vocals that sound set to maim. “Agonizing Spiritual Descent” begins with boiling guitar work, like blood bubbling in a pot, and the charcoal-smeared vocals erupt as pure death growls. The music bores into your soul, like it’s trying to make a permanent, open scar, and the tempos switch around to leave you guessing and your head spinning. The final moments thrash like mad, blowing the doors off the place. “When the Cross Points to Hell” is like classic death metal set on fire and left to burn for days and days. The vocals are unforgiving and laced with warnings, calling forth the “bringer of evil,” and the guys sound like they’re ready to do any dirty deed required of them. Just an ugly pile of carnage.

“Thought Disease” has a spacious open, atypical of the band’s piledriving style, but then the drums go off, and the pace grows heavy and relentless, with poking shouts of, “Your savior is nowhere to be found.” The final moments are buried in smoke and speed, like a funeral pyre set to accelerate. The title track has bendy, tricky guitars that are unexpected, and then it lets in destructive vocals. The song spurts and sprawls all over, throwing blazing fists in every direction, leaving you no place to take cover. Following the shout of, “Now your life is no more,” the band settles into a sinister groove that takes the track to its finish. “Spent Brass” is vicious and clobbering, with the vocals looking to do damage to both the listener and the messenger. The music is slurry and damaged, giving it a truly warped sense of danger. Closer “My Own Grave” is a 7:18-long instrumental that is full of misery and calculated horror. The song is rich with doom, long sections of solemn playing, and a dark sense of foreboding. It feels like a thick, suffocating fog is wafting in and darkening everything. You can’t see more than a few inches in front of you, yet you hear the hulk breathing, heaving, ready to strike. Then he attacks, as the band rages along with him, mauling you and grinding your face into the pavement, striking again and again until you can take no more. Then it all goes back into the murk, regaining its doom senses and dragging you through every square inch of their misery. It’s a fitting end to an exercise in human agony.

“The Virtuous Purge” is maniacally played and viciously executed, a true slab of charred black and bleeding death that will rot inside your system. There is no solace here, no warm greetings, and no chance for understanding or compassion. Barghest breed hate and ill intentions, and they smear their disease on whoever is closest, because that being likely deserves it in some form. If this sounds over the top to you, visit this record. You’ll realize I might not have gone far enough in describing to you this filthy document of anti-humanity.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/barghestsoulless

To buy the album, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/releasedirectory/relic54-barghest-the-virtuous-purge-lp/

For more on the label go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/

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