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After releasing a demo in 1997 Arathorn got a deal with Folter Records in the same year and then released the a full length that same year. After the full length only Skoll remained in the band and released a new demo in 2004 that was distributed only among friends. The current status of the band is unknown...
Arathorn begins the cd with a mid-paced march that sets the tone. Medieval mid-tempo epics are what this cd is about. The production is relatively good, clear keyboards, dirty distorted guitar, and very mid-range bassy bass that is easily audible at high volumes. The vocals are clean and harsh. The clean one's are the standard "monotonous" (monotonous does not mean bad) viking style vocals a little reminiscent of Falkenbach. The harsh vocals are very interesting as well. They are very throaty and airy and also not typical high shrieks but instead more mid range. This throaty vocal quality reminds me of Deathspell Omega on Kenose. Acoustic guitars are also heard on the last song and are very prominent in it. In addition several "non-metal" instruments are used like flute and accordion.
The songs are relatively interesting but are not amazingly variant. They rely on atmosphere rather than technicality to keep one engaged. Without the keyboards the cd would not be nearly as good. They provide backing strings and choir and do not take away from the dark atmosphere, instead they enhance it. The songs are strophically structured and there are vocals during half of the song at most. The guitars usually tremelo pick away, followed by the bass, while the keyboards add the melodies and the final atmospheric touch. Overall the band creates enough different variations of a progression and riff (Like on Hymne Des Winters Zorn) that the song is consistent and smooth but not dull and repetitive.
The overall result is a very good medieval effort, not over the top like most folk bands, and still very rooted in Black Metal. The atmosphere takes one back to dark ages Europe, and the mood is not dark in a depressive way, but rather in a "dark nature" way (dunno if that makes sense).
For fans of:
Arathorn is band most have never heard of. They hail from eastern Europe and are on the slightly underground label folter. However, while Arathorn may be obscure they are one of the best folky/pagan black metal bands ever! Arathorn music was written all the back as far as 94 however their brilliance is still unreachable. Arathorn creates an extremely dark grim sound which at the same time adds atmosphere instead of disabling it. They utilize an accordion which I think fits even more brilliantly than finntroll. Their songs are extremely long and take the listener to a world of madness. When I listen to this cd I feel like im transported to an alleyway of medieval eastern Russia, where dead bodies line the streets and the singer Skoll is running around mad. extremely emotional and extremely dark, anyone who wants to take their senses on a field trip should buy this cd, if you can find it.