|Melodic Death Metal
Dark Canvas Records
November 11th, 2011
Release length: 42:56
With the band clearly being more on the underground side, again finding a home with a smaller label, it’s expected that their material will have a bit of a raw sound to it. The Distant doesn’t let down on that assumption, and sadly it ends up being a drawback to the album. The overall audio quality sounds higher in pitch with a distinct rawer quality to it, which doesn’t really capture the band’s sound too well. The guitars are present, though very low in the mix, while the drumming is pretty distinct. The cymbals are pushed back a bit, are so are the snares, but the kicks are pretty loud with an obvious click that dominates pretty much everything, and not in a good way. The bass makes does as good a job as it can given the quality, being in the mix enough that you can pick up on it, but much of the time it isn’t too obvious and can easily be confused with the rhythm guitar’s performance due to the deeper sound those chords carry. The vocals are about as low as the rest of the instruments, and you can understand much of what is being said, though the guttural performance still makes it pretty hard to pick up on the lyrics all the time. But, with all these faults, when the instruments are in full swing at faster speeds, a lot of times you can actually pick up on them a little better, largely because of the richer, booming sound during these periods, such as “Gathering the Silence.”
But, even though the audio itself is pretty rough, it’s far from bad. There’s still a decent heaviness to what the band is playing, and a good deal of energy has been captured in the recordings. “Nightshade” kicks the album off with a nice display of the band’s catchier melodic tendencies with a more traditional Death Metal presence that offers a hint of brutality to the mix. The energy given off during the track is easily felt the moment it begins, and it’s carried through nicely, even into the slower passages. However, this track does show a slight issue with the audio, as closer to the end you hear what sounds like the cutting out of the guitars during one of the bridges, as if a wire were knocked loose for maybe a second. But while the band does a great job at mixing that brutality with melody, it’s the songs that have more of the latter of those two elements that really stick out. Archaios can manage to weave a strong atmosphere around their music with this release when need be, and they make good use out of it, giving the track a darker, yet commanding tone with plenty of shifts in speed that transition in and out well. The song itself also has a catchy rhythm that works with the commanding approach have you headbang along to it most of the time. “Approaching of My Demise” is another great track that find a good deal of melody pushing it along. The music does find itself a little slower compared to other tracks, but there’s still plenty to really pull the listener in with, such as the atmosphere-rich bridges around the time of the guitar solo that, thanks to some additional keyboards, really feel bleak, but also rather moving.
Archaios also incorporates some keyboards into the mix, which often isn’t too bad a thing. In the case of “Legions (In Remembrance Of…)” it does become a bit of an issue due to two reasons. First it’s because the sound that instrument produces doesn’t quite match the thicker music and the tone of the atmosphere. Aside that, the way they are performed also comes to factor in. Much of the time they are played quick, which gives it a bit of a slightly Progressive touch, not really adding anything to the song itself but as if trying to push it into a different direction than the one it appears the most comfortable in. “Until Lightning Strikes,” however, proves that the band knows how to handle these additional keyboards. The song actual adorns a bit of a Melodic Black Metal atmosphere thanks to the cleaner, yet surprisingly haunting keyboards that come into play here, setting the tone to the largely melodic track well. The song itself isn’t too heavy in the long run, and comes off a bit lighter compared to previous and coming songs, which includes the previous keyboard-heavy song “Legions (In Remembrance Of…).” This allows the song to be a little more mellow, but far from boring, and no less headbang worthy.
The Distant is a rather impressive follow-up effort. Archaios bring in a good deal of variety to this release, ranging from aggression and brutality to atmosphere, melody, and even some more mellowing moments. While it may seem like a tall order to fill for a Melodic Death Metal group, they do a pretty good job at mixing things up and keeping it all moving fluidly from start to finish. Aside an audio quality that leaves a little more to be desired, and some issues with it earlier on where it seems to drop out at times, The Distant feels like an effort that really shouldn’t be left covered by the underground shadows. If you’re a fan of the style, Archaios offers you an album to throw in and be able to enjoy without any problems, as well as put this group on your list of bands to keep a close eye on.
01. Nightshade – 6:13
02. The Distant – 4:54
03. Gathering the Silence – 5:05
04. Legions (In Remembrance Of…) – 5:53
05. Dreaming With the Dead – 4:31
06. Until Lightning Strikes – 7:51
07. Approaching of My Demise – 4:06
08. My Mourning – 4:30
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Dark Canvas Records via Catharsis PR.