Blood Harvest Records
September 8th, 2014
Release length: 15:34
As you might come to expect from the label, Arcane Malevolence is a very raw sounding release, which definitely works wonders given the vinyl format it is presented as. Haunting shouts echo across the EP, often as though pleading forone’s own life, while the dismally eerie guitars and strong twang or rattling of the bass guitar set up equally creepy aural backdrops of melody and a hint of blackened aggression. The drums compliment this all too well, offering addictive patterns from time to time when showing restraint for the former, but perfectly enhance the hostility of the latter through more than just blast beats.
The blasting, however, is how this whole thing starts. The rattling of the bass guitar on “Arcane Malevolence” is lost within the blistering drums and visceral vocal presence, relying on the chaotic guitars and their rich distortion to bludgeon the listener until the eccentric pacing and grooves hit prior to the solid guitar solo about a minute and a half in that shares the enthusiasm the rest of the passages around it carry. “Emanation from Below” starts with a momentary reprieve from the whiplash you just received before the all too familiar Swedish Death Metal sound erupts against more furious drumming that shifts in and out of mid-tempo grooves and passages that allow the stern click of the bass kick to assault your brain from the inside.
“Ensnared for Eternity” isn’t really that different compared to “Emanation from Below,” but the vocals definitely have a little more passion to them thanks to the touch of fear and hopelessness the raspier approach contains. This works perfectly with the blur of slower and commanding faster mateial that strikes you as random, but as if there’s a plan behind that very madness. At first it may sound weak, but the more you listen to it in full, the more dastardly and complex it becomes, making you a slave to the pulsating bass presence and unpredictability that even sports a hint of second wave Black Metal groove. That influence is greatly on display during “Blood Consecration.” The grim and melodic Emperor grade hooks weave an unsetteling atmosphere well past the first minute, though what follows doesn’t quite capitalize on it. You could consider the riffs and drum patterns handled in more of a ritualistic manner, but the simple fact is the presented grooves lack any real bite and end up sounding generic until the gloomy hooks and guitar solo kick in around the three minute mark. Sadly, this is just a bit too late to save it, though still a noble effort.
Other than that sudden drop to simplicity during “Blood Consecration,” Arcane Malevolence is a stunning example of what potential a seven-inch EP can have, especially from a group that is still rather fresh. This official debut offering for Ascended Dead is simply one of the strongest you can hope for as a listener. It may only be four songs that clock in at just over fifteen-and-a-half minutes, but the entire time is laced with eerie hatred and commanding passages that make this vile sounding effort truly stand out not only for the genre as a whole, but also within the label’s own recent releases. If you never came across the band’s 2012 self-titled demo and are a fan of spirit crushing Death Metal with a notable hint of Black Metal influence, Arcane Malevolence is something you absolutely must hear.
01. Arcane Malevolence – 2:36
02. Emanation from Below – 4:41
03. Ensnared for Eternity – 3:53
04. Blood consecration – 4:24
|Initial Pressing Score: 9/10