Not to be confused with the classic rock unit out of St. Louis, the much heavier ARBOGAST from Chicago might as well be considered prog-crunk. Their hyperactive songwriting theories calls to mind KYLESA, MADE OUT OF BABIES and the barest traces of HELMET, but with a lot more thrash, punk and progressive influences. Most likely, this band derives its namesake from the Roman general Flavius Arbogastes, aka Arbogast (said to have been birthed in barbarian lands), since their debut full-length "I" sounds like an entire garrison thrust into the heat of battle, complete with clanking shields, hacked-off limbs and bloodthirsty bellowing.
"I" will quickly leave you dizzy even with the harrowing eclipse greeting the album, "Black With Birds" before ARBOGAST sets about their madcap mission with the strident hardcore march of "Final Throes". From there, the album plows forth with all rotors throttling on "Unnamed Guns" and "I" becomes nearly too much to consume in one sitting. On "Blasfamous", ARBOGAST propels their listeners with an outpouring of gruesome velocity, then skids the mayhem just long enough to generate even more breadth in volume. Bassist/vocalist Aaron Roemig pushes his esophagus not so much to its fullest capacity, but to such searing pitches you're feeling a bitch of a headache brewing four songs in. To exacerbate the cerebral punishment in "Blasfamous", drummer Mike Rataj lays down sick roll after sick roll to move the track into a series of brutal time signature changes. Keep the ibuprofen within reach.
ARBOGAST's ramrod tactics are so roundabout and eruptive, you'll hardly notice you've slid from "Blasfamous" into "Forming the Flock", "Behind the Guise" and "The Victor, the Fallen" like you've been taking it all in while propelling through the death drops, barrel rolls and mega loops of the Fahrenheit at Hersheypark. There is veritably no pause between the tracks. If you're listening carefully, you'll hear a minute separation between "The Victor, the Fallen" and "Dethroned", but it's only the thinnest form of respite.
Aaron Romig and guitarist Mike Scheid easily keep in flow through their complicated, brain-hammering sequences. At one point on "The Victor, the Fallen", they hit notes with such precision they elevate their communal key to a grandiose crash before going berserk in cracked directions thereafter. Then the propulsion moment of "Dethroned" is sublime, while the sonic vacuum blowing throughout the insanely fast "Suffrage" is both exquisite and painful.
"I" could use a few screws tightened in spots since much of its material is just so goddamned nuts. What ARBOGAST serves up at insane intervals is impressive, but it's going to take acclimation for many listeners. For certain, ARBOGAST has set themselves for a potentially brilliant run as freakazoid prog punkers who can stand to reap a clique of math-minded mongoloids.