Review Summary: Sinister in nature.
The (for the most part) one man project Arckanum, has been churning out record after record of steady although not so groundbreaking black metal. It could be said that each album is much of a rehashing or exploration of older ideas remodelled to sound different creating new material, but, what listeners have here is a progressive display of Johan “Shamaatae” Lahger’s consistent approach to his music culminating in Helvitismyrkr
. With a rather raw production Lahger’s newest release crashes into the ears of the listener and promotes a degree of musical anguish reinforcing the album’s play back value.
The album opens with ‘Helvitt’ quickly creating a rather dissonant atmosphere before launching into a typical black metal riff and blast beat fest. Although these aspects are prominent throughout the entity of the record, these patterns are laced with melodic lines and ringing chords all adding to a down-tuned sinister sound. Lahger shows off his songwriting talent by throwing in what seems to be odd amounts of feedback, screechy notes and call/response vocal patterns. However the most important feature of Lahger’s songwriting is how he manages to combine all these features without creating a tiring listen, over-doing certain aspects and desensitizing the listener for that techniques next appearance.
Resonating strongly with Helvitismyrkr’s
musical style is Lahger’s vocals. Lines are even and the raspy, strangled screams are even somewhat understandable. Not only does this lift the amount of enjoyment the listener can have with the album, it also promotes Lahger’s lyrical themes, unfortunately the lyric sheet shows Lahger stay firmly with his musical roots as all lyrics are written in old Swedish or Icelandic. Listeners may not expect even balanced musical phrasing when it comes to this rather stereotypical black metal, but coming even less expected includes the likes of an occasional flute or tinny sounding violin that breaks the ice and adds further interest.
To an extent the album plods along at roughly the same pace. Never letting up, some tracks blend into the next creating a dull, dragging feeling for the listener. The album itself is strong but as tracks blend listeners become lost in wave after wave of tremolo riffing and blast beats. This however is not considered to be a bad thing. Comparisons made to other similar one man projects show favoritism for slower, slightly more depressed sounding tracks, but Arckanum keeps pushing right up to the last beat (before allowing for a ranted fade out). Maintaining a highly consistent finish to a solid black metal record with ‘punk-ish’ rhythms, creative rhythmic gallops make the album a little more accessible for its listeners and give a higher merit to Lahger as a song-writer.
consistency makes the album the success it is. There is no secret, ground breaking formula, nor anything extremely out of the ordinary that separates it from similar acts. Rather, the album pushes and maintains its dark atmosphere unrelenting in its on fashion. The album is far from being the best black metal album to ever be released but presents the listener with a solid and enjoyable output.