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A Solid Rebound Album - 85%

CrimsonFloyd, April 8th, 2012

Shamaatae, the man behind the one man band Arckanum, is a vet of the black metal scene. He’s been around since 1993, and has long been known for producing solid, if unspectacular black metal with a bit of Gothenburg melo-death flair. Then, in 2009, Arckanum took the black metal world by storm with ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ, arguably the best Swedish black metal album not released by a man named Quorthon. The riffs were absolutely phenomenal: flowing yet scorching, like liquid fire. It's an intoxicating sound that simultaneously hypnotizes and stimulates. Since ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ, Shamaatae has stuck with this style, and who can blame him? There are so many possibilities available in this wicked style of riffing and there is no reason to abandon it too soon.

Unfortunately, ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ’s follow-up Sviga Læ did feel a bit too much like leftovers album: similar style, but less fire, insight and motivation. Well, Aracknum’s latest Helvítismyrkr qualifies as a rebound album. The fire is back and so is the inspiration. On the whole, Helvítismyrkr follows the format of ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ: sharp production, juicy riffs gushing with all kinds of emotions, raspy growls and a rumbling rhythm section that makes the earth shift beneath your feet. This is seriously gripping stuff; the progressions tend to ascend toward higher and higher notes, pushing the listener to incubus-induced ear orgasm.

Most the songs don’t venture too far from that general formula, which is fine, because the formula is absolutely intoxicating. It’s like finding a good wine: if it’s good, why not buy a whole case? The exception would be “Svartr ok Þursligr” which throws a total curveball at the listener by accompanying its addictive riffs with a pair of melancholic fiddles, sounding like some blackened tribute to The Red in The Sky Is Ours. The only mystery is why the fiddles were only used once on the album when they complement Arckanum’s sound so well.

Though not on par with ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ, Helvítismyrkr is still one of the better releases in Arckanum’s discography. It’s a consistent album that never loses momentum and continuously offers enticing riffs. Fans of the band will not be disappointed and newcomers are likely to be impressed.

(Originally written for