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Promising concept - 78%

kluseba, July 20th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Cold Woods Productions (3' CD-R, Limited edition)

Holyarrow is an intriguing one-man epic black metal project from Xiamen, Fujian province in the People's Republic of China. The mastermind behind this debut single is Shi Kequan who is also the driving force in the melodic black metal project Black Reaper and the death and thrash metal group Rupture.

"1660 廈門大海戰" is an intriguing song for many reasons. First of all, the historical topic is really fascinating and important to be told and remembered. The fact that the song is sung in Hokkien dialect adds to the unique authenticity of this project. The track has an epic length of over ten minutes and builds up a brutal and sinister yet glorious and heroic atmosphere accompanied by numerous changes of pace carried by the rhythm section, simplistic yet gripping guitar melodies and the use of sacral keyboard sounds. The different ideas sound coherent, inspired and fit well together. The different changes and transitions in the song justify most of its length and make me hungry for more. An entire conceptual record about Hokkien history would be welcome.

On the other side, the track has a few slightly repetitive parts despite an overall atmospheric song writing and is a few minutes too long to remain constantly. I'm aware that black metal records should sound grim, straight and raw but the epic concept would have deserved a slightly better and more organic production in my opinion to unfold its entire potential. Especially the bass guitar is nearly inaudible and the other instruments blend too much one into another. I must also admit that the vocals lack diversity throughout the tune. They are suitable for a raw black metal band but an epic extreme metal with such an ambitious concept requires a more diversified, intellectual and skilled approach in my opinion.

Still, Holyarrow is a promising project due to its epic atmosphere, its intriguing historical topic and its lyrics in Hokkien dialect. I hope this is going to be more than just a project since this first song is atmospheric, intense, and original enough to stand out among many other debut tracks from epic black metal projects from all around the world. Genre fans and those addicted to Eastern Asian culture should give this tune a couple of spins and spread the name of this intriguing band.