Tuesday, October 1, 2019

review: Arctos

Arctos
Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands
Northern Silence Productions
20 September 2019
Sound: Fast, melodic black metal is the cornerstone of the band, and they also have some progressive, atmospheric and symphonic tendencies, all of which enhances the character of the music.
Production: The production meets the standards for this style. There is a lot going on and getting clarity to hear all the instruments is not easy, but this production/band team has done a solid, competent job for a contemporary sound quality.
Instrumentation: They say that they use “piano,” not keyboards. As with so much metal music, when it comes to drums, we don’t know what is real drums and what is studio magic, but this is high-speed drumming, and people will have to wait to see the band live to get a better idea of the drummer’s abilities. Here it sounds very good. The guitar work is also very good in terms of riff and soloing. The guitar melodies are a highlight that the band wants to emphasize. Oftentimes the melodies almost steal the show; it’s that good.
Vocals: The growling is quite intelligible. It’s very approachable and likable extreme vocals, and it shows a lot of effort. It is a black metal scowl, not the screeching style of black metal vocals. Both death and black metal fans should find the vocals to be good.
Songs: Despite the lengthy compositions (48 minutes duration), the songs are memorable and should be welcomed by fans of the genre. The melodies, the tempos and the good guitar work are attractive points in the songs. The songs are complex enough to invite more listens, and they have avoided going overboard with the intricacies.
Lyrics: Lyrics are not available. It seems like the band is concerned with nature, the mountains, rivers and seas, the seasons and things like that. There is no overt political nor religious agenda.
Potential audience: Fans of all melodic black metal will find lots to enjoy. Listeners who have never given black metal a chance are advised to reconsider their prejudices. This album is a potential mind changer due to the good melodies.
Similar bands: The foundational characters of this style come from Dissection 1995, and that is widely recognized as the gold standard in the 1990s. Another similar sound would be Sacramentum 1996, a Swedish band sharing similarities with Dissection at that time. Contemporary bands that fans identify in this sound are Uada and Mgla. The Washington State band Hoth also shares such a dedication to top notch musicianship in this general style.
Assessment: The album should be a welcomed addition to the devoted supporters of the subgenre’s sound. It is the type of album that fans will find themselves coming back to in order to discover smaller details with repeated listens (the piano work, the soloing). Very entertaining.
arctosofficial.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-grasp-of-mortal-hands

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