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French black metal, it isn't where it started but given the amount of excellent bands that come from the Gallic country you would be confused to think they created the genre. Arphaxat is not exactly a "new" band, to be accurate you have the co-founder of Deathspell Omega and former Hirilorn member Shaxul and relatively unknown vocalist Draken.
If you've heard the early Deathspell Omega releases like 'Infernal Battles' or 'Inquisitors Of Satan' you'll hear A LOT of similarities to Arphaxat. The main difference being the velocity of the songs are a tad slower than the frenetic pace of those early Deathspell Omega songs. I find it amazing that a black metal band can make ANY music without the use of guitars. And I'm not talking about Dark Ambient. So when I heard that there were no guitars and the former DSO man Shaxul had a new release I jumped all over it.
The songs are all written and sung in French, and if other reviews I stated I loved that. In my opinion it's not done enough. But with bands like this one, Peste Noire and Darvulia we are starting to see a trend emerge and thankfully so. Now having heard the early DSO releases I can't exactly tell if it's Draken singing or maybe perhaps Shaxul himself. Their voices sound so alike that I sometimes ponder the thought of Shaxul doing even the vocals along with everything else. But I'll have to believe it when they say that Draken is the vocalist and Shaxul is in charge of bass and drums.
Which leads me the next thing. The bass is loud and buzzy sounding, a really good black metal shrill sound that would confuse any unassuming person that it's a guitar. So I give him massive credit for pulling that off. What you get here is your classic raw, underground black metal sound. Nothing more, nothing less. It's done very well and with plenty of conviction. 10 songs, all under the 5 minute mark so it's brief and to the point. 'Exorcismes' is perhaps the song that sticks out most to me because of the killer slow bassline in the very beginning. 'Peste Et Possédées' is also another memorable track with a wonderful French verse.
All in all, don't expect anything epic or something life changing. I think the band summed it perfectly on the attached promo paper on the album cover when it says that it's "NOT for open-minded idiots who have no idea what true primitive Black Metal is about! " If you have a thirst for old-school black metal with your basic meat and potatoes ingredients (except that there's no guitar) you will love this. How Shaxul makes this work with a bass and no guitar is quite impressive and they deserve to be listened to.