Arrogant Destruktor: That’s the rather flowery name of a black metal duo from Birmingham, UK, but as it is with other bands like the Meads of Asphodel or Worms of Sabnock, the British metal culture has a history of choosing more or less colourful names for bands. Arrogant Destruktor have been active since 2012 and consists of Adam Richardson on guitars, bass, and synth, and “A.T.” on vocals (the guys get help from different drummers). midst the Blackest Void is their first non-demo release even though it is primarily a collection of songs from said demo days.
Despite being relatively new to the scene, Arrogant Destruktor are definitely inspired by various classics of the metal genre, especially those who try to combine a certain heavy metal vibe with black metal elements. Instead of focussing on ice-cold riffs, minimalist blasting, and a vicious atmosphere, the duo composes black metal tracks with a rather earthy atmosphere and warm production whose riffs remind one more of classic heavy metal (NWOBHM) and sometimes even hard rock. Without doubt, Motörhead‘s music and Darkthrone (especially Fenriz’s) demand to bring extreme metal back to its traditional roots of the eighties (and even earlier years) have resonated in the hearts and creative minds of Arrogant Destruktor.
Take, for example, the album’s closing track, ‘The Divine Embers’, which starts with a powerful yet melodic riff and fast though sadly weakly produced blast parts and later evolves into an upbeat heavy metal track with a mixture of black and death metal vocals. This works out well because Arrogant Destruktor are able to blend in some interesting leads and some zippy tempo breaks in order to keep the song exciting for the whole six minutes. Because of this musical mixture, they are able to show that they are certainly inspired by those metal days when extreme and classical heavy metal were not two marked-off territories with seemingly little intersections. Hellhammer and Celtic Frost‘s early work may serve as a useful example in order to imagine the sound of Arrogant Destruktor. While Tom G. Warrior is considered one of the originators of extreme metal, his early music was, despite its rawness and brutality, still close to traditional heavy metal.
Yet, while bands like Hellhammer, Venom, and early Bathory occupied themselves more with juvenile occultism and Satanism, Arrogant Destruktor obviously decided to walk another path and choose another typical topic of traditional heavy metal: barbarism, great battles (‘The Black War Machine’) and ancient heroes (‘The Rule of Xerxes’). This is also reflected in the fact that Amidst the Blackest Void is decorated with the picture Death on a Pale Horse by Benjamin West, who was perhaps the leading artist for classicist paintings in the United States throughout the eighteenth century. Readers interested in such art will know that West painted more than one version of this picture which is basically a picturesque interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Revelation 6:8 in which the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse bring doom over the world. Naturally, Arrogant Destruktor decided to use the darker version from 1796, which is much more fitting to the overall sound of their music.
Furious battle scenes and imaginative descriptions of fictional empires and landscapes can also be found in their lyrics—for example, in the song ‘Frozen in Time’, which is a rather gloomy, less aggressive, and more atmospheric track with a definite focus on the buzzing riffs:
‘Kingdoms of ice
fall onto our domain
ancient, frozen in time.
Lost runes and relics
descend into myth
remaining only for our eyes to see.’
Norway’s Immortal couldn’t have written it better.
Amidst the Blackest Void will appeal to all fans of the retro trend currently still taking place in the heavy metal world and also to those who like classic heavy metal with a sharper raw edge. While one can clearly hear that some of the songs on this album are not coherently composed and would need some smoothing and polishing, there is clear potential to be heard thanks to the epic atmosphere and some almost catchy riffs. Nevertheless, those who love this mixture of heavy and extreme metal might first turn to bands like Barbarian or Bunker 66 who simultaneously sound more frenetic and on-point, and satisfy the lust for this musical combination. Therefore, Arrogant Destruktor will remain an underground tip for the time being; however, this could change with their first full-length album if the duo manages to bring more aggression and more power into their sound.
01) The Rule of Xerxes
02) Black War Machine
03) Frozen in Time
04) Hate Legions Ride
05) Parasitic Roots of Earth
06) Gold Is the Flesh of the Sun God
07) Majesty of Space and Time
08) The Divine Embers