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Obscure is one word that could easily be used to describe France's Arphaxat: For one thing, they have no guitars, which is strange for metal bands on the whole, but a black metal band with no guitars? Looking at this band's discography also shows their lack of activity, as this is only their second release, with their demo being released in 2003. But hey, its extremly likely that this project is just one of a myriad of projects these men are involved in, as is true with a lot of extreme metal acts with numerous side projects.
I haven't heard the demo, but Hell's Headbanger records assured listeners that anyone who had heard it should no what to expect. This statement should reveal a lot about this band's mentality, which is indeed in sync with the primitive black metal attitude of shunning progression, open mindedness, or even decent recording quality.
While I have to admit that the black metal mindset is something I strongly oppose for the most part, I have always been transfixed by the music itself, especially when it leans toward the primitive, droning, raw style that this band possesses in spades.
The music is somewhat predictable, while at the same time sounding strangely different from most bands of this style. This is probably due to the total lack of guitars. Instead, this band opts for a twin bass attack, with one bass being overly distorted playing the role of guitar, and the other a more standard clean tone providing something that sounds a little more lucid and flowing. Both basses are very clearly audible, and the loud distorted bass gives this band a certian grinding, churning, quality absent from many black metal bands.
This band claims influence from the old ways of Bathory and even VON, and these styles are apparent throughout. I'd say the VON influence is very noticeable, as this band often uses simple driving tremolo picked riffs accompanied by the standard black metal blasts and thrash beats, with a certain amount of punk styled drumming for good measure. Vocals are a raspy mid range scream, with occasional spoken word parts here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary. Recording quality is about as grim as one would expect.
Despite this bands obvious nods to the old school, I find their sound to be somewhat refreshing. The music is not nearly as necro styled as one might think. Though not overtly melodic, there are many moments and riffs that echo with a feeling of triumph, giving certian songs a very epic feel, especially on the closing track.
This is a pretty solid release overall, as it is sure to satisfy fans of bestial, necro black metal, while at the same time offering a slightly different spin on a tried and true formula. I guess the lack of guitars ends up being this bands stongpoint, as this gives them an entirely different sound and feeling from similar bands playing this style.