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2020: A SPHESS Odyssey - 46%

Wilytank, November 29th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Despite being the oldest project in the Prava Kollektiv, Arkhtinn have perhaps the lowest average quality of material among all the projects in that circle. This is owing to them releasing a string of demos attempting to establish some sort of identity and fumbling. The only thing that really stuck is their penchant for songs longer than 20 minutes. Then 2018 rolls around and they release the genuinely superb 最初の災害 debut album, the first release from this project I'll say is well worth throwing money towards. After a year on the back burner while the person or persons involved focus on the circle's other projects, they return with a split with Starless Domain from outside Prava Kollektiv. Unfortunately, with this return comes the return to mediocre releases; but to be fair, its not entirely their fault this time.

Arkhtinn's half sees them continue with the sound of 最初の災害 with the biggest curve ball being the roughly two minutes of jumpstyle beats at the beginning and end of the track. Otherwise, they're continuing to nail this sort of aggressive spacey atmo-black metal sound with heavy emphasis on the synths. I've been loathe to compare projects like this to Darkspace, but Arkhtinn have turned into one of the better and more honest examples of a band that's taken influence from them. Their main difference is their guitars are further back on the mix and the synths further forward to make music that's somewhat more "epic" sounding than Darkspace ever were; but Arkhtinn still has a rather sinister edge to their sound and their heavily effect laden vocals (a bit of a staple for Prava Kollektiv) have enough range to match Darkspace's triple vocalist setup. Arkhtinn have established that they know what they're doing now. Unfortunately, that's the end of the positive notes for this release.

It's actually funny to go from Arkhtinn's half to Starless Domain's because Starless Domain's "MUSE" is almost a perfect example of what Arkhtinn would sound like if it was done much for amateurishly. This mix here is whack with this rather obnoxious reverbed guitar dominating the track with its near constant "loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo" sound that does not change. Both bands use obviously programmed drums; but while Arkhtinn's percussion sounds rather good rergardless, Starless Domain's absurd drum fills at the end of measures sound goofy as hell, like they're too fast for their own good. Starless Domain's vocals especially sound like a bad parody of what Arkhtinn did on the preceding track. Their approach is similar, but the execution is way worse with the higher pitched Dani Filth shrieks sounding particularly annoying. This track sucked.

I wouldn't think I'd say a release from Prava Kollektiv's recent output was not worth picking up, especially considering how strong their 2020 drop was for their other bands, but this Astrophobia split just does not work. Or more specifically, Starless Domain's half doesn't work. I'm all for downloading this for Arkhtinn's half alone and deleting Starless Domain's. As the lesser known project on the split though, this track does not make me eager to listen to the rest of their work.