When it comes to well-crafted Atmospheric Black Metal, Arizmenda is second to none. Infusing their raw, classic Black Metal riffs with a creepy, melancholic atmosphere, their approach to Black Metal may not be anything new, but they are indeed among the finest practitioners of the genre. While still fairly unknown, the band is most definitely starting to makes waves amongst a sea of Black Metal fans, and for once, this recognition is well deserved. Their 2009 released debut album, Within the Vacuum of Infinity...
is a truly captivating listen, one that will most definitely have you scrambling for your headphones over and over again.
Debut track Those Beaten Paths of Confusion
opens will a salvo of intense blast beats and icy-cold tremolo picked guitars. Not only do the guitars work as a device to pummel your senses, they also have strong atmospheric qualities as well, creating a suffocating and dense tone. Shrieked, hell-spawned vocals also soon make their way into the song, buried in the background yet so strong in delivery they manage to hold their own amongst the strong instrumentation. This chaos leads a clean guitar interlude, where the creepily picked notes echo, and the pained howls of the vocalist (who's name is unknown) sound more akin to something yelled in a ritual rather than a song. Slowly the song builds steam, first, putting distortion the cleanly picked notes (which adds even more to the creepy atmosphere), than, going full swing back into the intro riff. The song continues in this fashion until the end, where it fades out. Beyond the Shadow of Emptiness and Nothingness
starts in the almost same fashion as the song before it, ridiculously fast drums, but slow picked notes, that eventually turn into a superb tremolo picked line. A great thing about the guitarist(s?) of that they have the ability to mold such strong, intense riffs, that are not only harsh, but also subtly melodic and have great atmospheric qualities. As the song progresses, it builds in epic nature, with the ending riff having a obscene amount of power almost reminiscent to something in Viking Metal, but with a darker edge.
Poison Yourself...With Though
begins with creepy ambience, the distorted chant of a man, backed by a chilling synth key note. After a simple, brief drum roll, the band kicks into a 90's inspired Black Metal onslaught, with high note tremolo and fast drums. The drumming on this album is excellent, with the percussionist going to great lengths to keep with the Black Metal aesthetic way of playing, yet having enough feeling to perfectly serve the songs as well. Due to the note choices of the guitarists (a lot of dissonant chords), the ambiance on this song is particularly chilling, with a definite vibe of the Black Metal classics going on. The Agents of Transformation
starts with a fuzzy, melodic lead alongside a flurry of single picked notes and a mid-tempo rock beat. This quickly changes back into hyper speed Black Metal riffage, yet this time accented by ultra melodic, classically influenced keyboards. Since generally Arizmenda's general playing style is ultra atmospheric, the keyboards add yet another layer, thickening the sound greatly, and making it feel much more claustrophobic.
Drowning in the Pain of Consciousness
is definitely the most diverse piece on the album, adding slight elements of Viking and Doom metal into its music. The beginning is more excellent tremolo picked guitar upholding the vibe of old-school, while the drummer pounds the skins are harshly as can be. The true beauty of this song however is not reached until the mid-section which features an amazing clean picked section, along with a simple echoed guitar lead. This section leads into supremely melodic guitars, which is not too far from a line found from a band in the Viking Metal genre. Another twist is when that leads into a short, slow, Doom Metal riff, with a crawling drumline. Last track Deny the Disease of Life
begins with a hauntingly melodic clean section, with notes that are repeated throughout the song. The vocals on this song are indeed the most emotional on the album, with pained howls, quite similiar to the shrieks of Varg Vikernes from Burzum. Throughout the album, the vocalist does a great job of switching his approach up, going from a mid-range rasp, to high shrieks and sometimes even guttural, death-like lows. Musically this song also seems to be the most chaotic, changing back and forth from using typical tremolos to strange dissonant chords, creating some great contrast.
Within the Vacuum of Infinity
is one of the best Black Metal releases of 2009, an album that needs to be heard by anyone who is a fan of the bleak genre. Underrated and unknown, it's presence is just lurking beneath the surface of the famed releases of the past year, but with a few more listens, it would no doubt be widely acclaimed as a standout even amongst the great albums that have been released already. With only 100 copies in print for America, one could only do themselves a favor by picking this up as fast as possible, for this is an album that you wouldn't want to slip by your fingers.