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An end to all but the cold - 90%

Phosphorous, September 13th, 2009

"…a reflection and an allegorization of Þjazi’s wrathful and god-adversary evocation, resulting in long and annihilating winters destined to wipe out all life. It is the beginning of Ragna Røk." That is the description Arckanum have provided for their latest offering to the chaotic chapels of old entitled “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ.” The rune “Þ” means giant in ancient Norse and symbolic in that, this Swedish black metal occult band has sculpted a glorious monolith, a cataclysmic creation that boils up a siren which cannot be denied. From “Þorhati” to “Þytetir,” the snowstorm to end all snowstorms brews, annihilates and withers to a scene of blood-stained white, with only the most crushing of black metal available.

Noticeable from inception, “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” has stronger production than “Antikosmos,” which featured a stormier recording, infused with more chaos and less clarity. Arckanum’s venture into better production has still left them within the realm of underground rawness, now providing you with an elevated awareness of the music. The entire album sounds like an ice-crushing beast, blowing out small bits of snow like a cold, white tornado. The melancholic, marching tone is as constant as the falling snow, but has many individual snowflakes blazing throughout the album. In other words, the overall mood and tempo remains rather constant, but every one of the eleven tracks has its uniqueness, especially when you get to a track like “Þa Komu Niflstormum” or the ambient songs like “Þyrstr” and “Þjazagladr.”

“Þorhati” is buzzing with atmospheric black metal and trancelike patterns. This sets the tone of the album, fast to mid-paced with bursts of interest that splatters across like the flick of a giant paintbrush. There’s so much going on, so many pieces, yet they all come together to create one work of art. “Þann Svartis” features a deep-reaching guitar solo that’s anything but cheesy and spills out the emotions of a dying world trapped beneath the snow with a drowned wailing, creeping in the back as part of the overall rhythm until it finally breaks through as a solo. The vocals scream out warnings and are so impassioned, they sound absolutely genuine. It’s hard to believe that all of this comes from one man, Shamaatae, but then again, we humans have so many parts of our own being that are just waiting to be set free upon the world. Parts that we may not even be aware of, but that subconsciously, we yearn to discover.

No matter how many times the songs played, their glimmer never faded. This is different from what one might expect from Arckanum, but it won’t be a letdown in the very least. “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” is supposed to be about an apocalyptic winter and that is clearly shown through the music. It’s amazing to hear how a band like this can have clear production, yet still sound so underground and secretive while many bands out there go too far and leave it up to machines to write music for them. They’ve been here since the 90’s, but show no signs of heading towards the path that some older acts have littered with their commercial sickness.

In the end, everything just comes together like a puzzle with all of the pieces in place. The tale and the music go together beautifully and the repetitive whips of melodious riffs and ominous drumming on “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” carve out an addicting trench for you to blacken in while frostbite overcomes your body. Arckanum are a band of the highest respect and will continue to prosper, enveloped in its own light.

- Written for Tanin'iver Zine