Arkheth – 12 Winter Moons Comes the Witches Brew (2018) REVIEW

Up until two years ago Arkheth had spent most of their 17 years as a full band masterminded by Tyraenos who handled drumming and vocals concurrently. On this third full-length he has taken over the project himself entirely and achieved something truly avant-garde, and occasionally questionable, in the realm of atmospheric black metal. It is a far cry from their 2003 album ‘Hymns of a Howling Wind’ which wasn’t much more than second wave Norwegian black metal imitation with some cheap keyboards tossed in. A full seven years later they released ‘IX & I: The Quintessence of Algaresh’ a symphonic/melodic black metal record with some lofty, melodramatic ideas that translated into a disjointed folksy prog-black mess where their longer compositions typically worked themselves out beautifully. So, when I saw the press release for this and it gave mention to psychedelics and Oranssi Pazuzu I think my expectations were set off in the wrong direction.

Another seven years had passed, of course, and Arkheth is (yet again) an entirely different project in a different style. I will say that this new style does attempt to go where many bands aren’t: Outer space. It comes across as a personalized take on ‘Kosmonument’ with breaks into space-rock jamming set to metal drumming and a tendency to place spoken word samples where they aren’t necessary. “Dark Energy Equilibrium” best expresses these intentions in it’s first half, and the experience is sinister and psychedelic until the saxophone bursts in and the jank of it collapses into some kind of 2010 jazz-noise metal moment that kills the momentum of the song for me. It is more demented rock music than it is black metal, but when black metal does buzz in it has that lo-fi, atomospheric glint to it that clashes with the bonking space-riffs of “Where Nameless Ghouls Weep” that might be better off accompanying instrumentation closer to Inquisition instead.

As confounding as messaging, style change, and regime change can be when a band’s name stays the same, Arkheth have been brilliantly self-examined and replaced with a superior set of musical concepts. ’12 Winter Moons Comes the Witches Brew’ is soaring with an imaginative 42 minutes of psychedelic extreme metal that clashes boldly with messy and sputtering space rock-isms. It is something new, something slightly borrowed then dirtied, and something disjointedly smart enough to “art” its way out of mediocrity. I hope he pulls even further away from atmospheric black metal’s fringes and blends in some more aggressive elements into the free-janking jazz style he’s found on this record. It is truly unexpected.

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Artist Arkheth
Type Album
Released February 20, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow Arkheth on Facebook
Genres
Atmospheric Black Metal, Psych/Space Rock, Avant-Garde Metal 

The smells, the visions. 3.25/5.0

 

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