without Internet Explorer,
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For being anyone’s debut, this is a good album. For being general black metal, it's pretty ok. For being Arckanum it's...well, not bad.
Over all this album gives not too many surprises, but at the time it was released it had a lot more to give but since this is no longer the year of 1995 it stands kind of faceless in the vast crowd of the present day black metal scene. I mean, everything is there; the grinding, the solid riffs, the genuine feeling of a black metal release but there is little extra stuff that would make this record hit the spot.
The main problem is the mixing. This was the first time Shamaatae entered a professional studio (Abyss Studios) and Peter Tägtgren kind of pulled the strings himself adding that typical Abyss Studio-sound: way too clean and clear to fit the mysterious and clandestine approach of Arckanum. If you listen to the following albums you understand how little influence Shamaatae had on this session and I must say I feel a bit sorry for him because Arckanum is at least 70% atmosphere.
Over all the music is somewhat repetitive and not very original, but given the thought that this is a debut recording it is not much to whine about. The album is also a bit too long. He could have cut it down some 20 minutes and still kept the whole concept. A cheesy keyboard melody in the intro that just keeps going on and on, begging to be “fast-forwarded” feels kind of unnecessary too.
Artwork can be seen as both great and poor depending on what release you've got. The slightly more limited ones with coloured photo on the cover have a very cheap booklet. The re-release though, in black and silver is just artistically beautiful (as usual).
Some things that still makes this album stand out from the crowd are: the vocals (of course) presented with his trademark "throat-cancer" screams of torment, but also the clean vocals that are powerful and full of emotion (not emo though). The upper-class-primitive riffs that are simple but beautiful in its simplicity and surely enough not lacking melody (also I get the feel that they are slightly heavier than regular black metal riffs). The lyrics are as usual in medieval Swedish brings this, and all the other releases of Arckanum, to an unthreatened position in the black metal world; no matter how much a band sucks, special efforts like this gives the work a more artistic value. Back in this time Shamaatae’s knowledge of this forgotten language was somewhat limited (only noticed by Swedes I guess) but it’s nice not having to listen to the common “Yeah, Satan, yeah, kill Christ, yeah-yeah drink blood” and such, for a change. This is a steady piece of classic black metal. "Berghet- De Glömda" (The Mountain- the Forgotten) is the best track, without a doubt, with that unusual mix of “clean-rough” vocals. It's actually one of the best Arckanum songs of all times which are pretty odd since this is the "less best" of his albums.
I would not avoid saying that there are better albums out there on the market, but this one is not bad in any way and if you are a fan of Arckanum you should have it in your collection without a doubt. It serves its purpose.