Barghest - The Virtuous Purge
Gilead Media
Black metal
7 songs (37:22)
Release year: 2014
Gilead Media
Reviewed by Charles
Hey, wow, I have had time to do a review! That is a luxury these days so I wanted to prioritise something I was actually enthusiastic about, as opposed to offering an ‘honest representation of the wider metal community’ or some shit that I am supposed to be doing nowadays according to some guy Goat wrote an editorial about. I am so, so, so sorry.

Barghest are a (mainly) black metal band from Baton Rouge, Louisiana- geographically, I guess somewhere more instinctively associated with sludge and doom (they actually share members with Thou, who are a pretty important act in that scene currently). Indeed, that is perhaps reflected in the way The Virtuous Purge sounds, which is just so dense and grimy. While there are lots of classic blackened motifs on here, there are also substantial parts where the album is just like a fucking aural rendering of a belch from the mouth of a corpulent sewer fiend.

The black metal here, then, is of a ramshackle kind, which is no bad thing. Opener Our Last Night on Earth takes some classic tremolo patterns but delivers them underneath a gurgling death metal vocal delivery- a stylistic affinity confirmed when it jolts into a Domination-like rumble in its last minute or so. Sometimes this death metal influence takes on an even more bestial tone- occasionally a band like Diocletian comes to mind when listening. Other tracks like When the Cross Points to Hell or Spent Brass remind me a bit of recent Svartsyn: heaving, lumpy black metal riffs which wrestle with the formidable weight of the percussion (the latter being brought right up in the mix).

What this does not have is anything like the painful melancholia of Pain of Days from their last album, or even the more classically Nordic savagery of something like A Gray Vision. It is a more single-minded record than its predecessor, locating a particularly festering niche between black, death and doom and proceeding to wallow in it like a grim pig in grim shit. That said, maybe the real highlight of The Virtuous Purge comes when they depart from this approach slightly: closer (and longest track) My Own Grave is dank, crawling-pace doom, which does indeed bear a strong Thou resemblance. Supremely miserable, before picking up in its last couple of minutes into black metal of blistering intensity- probably the most ferocious and orthodox moment of the record in its dying moments. Cool!

Killing Songs :
My Own Grave, When the Cross Points to Hell
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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