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Technicality for the sake of technicality has never been my fundamental preference in extreme metal, as I have always looked upon it as a mandatory background element of the music rather than its main purpose. Therefore, an immense percentage of bands who exclusively pursue that particular aesthetics have little or no appeal to me, which is why I tend to focus on and accentuate other qualities in music – songwriting probably being the most important of them all. Fortunately enough, every once in a while bands like Arkaik come around, bringing out the best of both worlds through their craft (songwriting skills and technical proficiency), and their latest studio opus Metamorphignition, that came out on Unique Leader records in 2012, is a prime example of that pleasant meeting.
To be quite honest, I have always had an impression that most of the artists on Unique Leader imprint were chasing Deeds Of Flesh’s tail style-wise, which certainly wasn’t an easy task considering the evolution Deeds Of Flesh had gone through and the standards they had set with their last two albums. Sure, some bands were closer to bitting that tail than the others, but at the end of a day, very few of them came close. I would say that Arkaik are probably the only one from that group of artists who managed not only to go hand in hand with Unique Leader owners, but to actually be ahead of them in certain aspects.
Metamprphignition displays extraordinary diversity of the musical content, wealth of ideas, tightness of execution and the exceptional songwriting substance, and as such, easily places these five young men from California on the top of the pile of technical death metal’s most outstanding specimens. As far as Unique Leader’s trademark sound is concerned, this album is literally as good as it gets. I would even go so far to claim how Deeds Of Flesh’s Portals To Canaan relied excessively on further development of the ideas that had been presented on this release, helping them to produce their most brilliant effort to date as well – Craig Peter’s presence on the record certainly adds some leverage to these claims.
When you strip Arkaik’s music to its bare bones, when you take down the production ornaments and technical tricks, what is left are the beautiful harmonies and the powerful lyrics, and in this case they are strong and engaging enough to make an impact without all these aforementioned enrichments distracting the listener and concealing the essence. The incredible melody that introduces the album-titled piece, mesmerizingly alluring leads in Sirens In Electric Veils, bone-crushing opening riff of Blade Grasp Priesthood, or dramatic awesomeness of The Omnipus – all these little moments are nothing but permanent reminders of how ingenious this album actually is.
I consider Metamorphignition to be a career defining moment for these Californian youngsters, meaning that they have finally managed to distinguish themselves from the myriad of their peers and to become a credible and relevant entity of proficient death metal musicians. As far as Arkaik is concerned, from this point on, onwards and upwards is the only way to go. Let me quote one of their verses and finish this review by expressing my hopes that future holds many more screaming abysses of beautiful cacophonies for this phenomenal band.
- Towards The Inevitable
Akraik came into the line of sight of many listeners with the release of their sophomore effort, "Reflections Within Dissonance". It was a decent outing featuring acrobatic guitar work and a stunning drum performance. I believe that many fans will be pleased to learn that their third full-length record, "Metamorphignition", takes the aspects of the previous album, improves them, and brings in newer elements to refresh their sound.
The guitarists' performance on this album is one of the best that I have ever heard. The acrobatic solos and never ending stream of riffs keep the listener entertained and begging for more. There are so many riffs on this album that one might be inclined to feel overwhelmed with the amount of sonic information entering your brain, however this is not the case. Every note and every chord is memorable and nothing gets lost in the mix (in part due to the superb production). This focus on quality riffs and solos results in some amazing moments, like the 10 minute epic "The Omnipus." The bass guitarist's work is well done as well. The bass work is very noticeable and creative on the album and has shining moments on the "Sirens In Electric Veils" duo and "The Omnipus".
The lyrics are very well-written and the vocalist makes them flow with the music. They tell the story of a man named Cyrix who is set ablaze from the inside by mystical hieroglyphics and it taken on a journey to the very foundations and essences of general existence and the universe. He is transported to another realm and while there interacts with very powerful and mysterious creatures like a siren named Amoria and a black-winged creature named Malevolex. He interacts with this different entities and they reveal certain secrets and answers about the universe by allowing him to intensely perceive the universe and notice every detail. Seeing the infrared rays between DNA molecules and exploring the very foundations of matter, the journey proves to be overwhelming for Cyrix's mind and body and the ordeal gradually transforms him. His metamorphosis nearly complete, Cyrix is launched headlong into infinity. With his body ripped apart at the speed of light and joining the fabric of existence, he becomes one with The Omnipus. I think this entity controls creation and essentially IS creation. This is purely my interpretation of the lyrics and I think that their story is beautiful and original.
In step with the guitar work, the drummer, Alex Bent, follows along smoothly and seemingly effortless with the endless changes in tempo and cadence. This guy combines machine-like precision with emotional zeal in his playing and it comfortably rests in the mix. The drumming is pretty outstanding, not even considering his young age at the time of this release (19). Shining moments are "Metamorphignition" and "The Withered Hands Of Mortality".
A band's third album is said to reflect the style that they will continue to use throughout the remainder of their career. If this is the case with Arkaik, then play on. "Metamorphignition" is a befittingly complex and mature release with an energetic and youthful atmosphere. Great job, Arkaik, on a solid piece of death metal.