Release Date: February 15, 2011
Yes, I’m a little late to the dance on this one given it came out two months ago, but this is one obscure band.
Based out of Eugene, Oregon of all places, Arkhum is a kitchen sink of extreme metal; death growls here, black metal there, technical trills and fills, blast beats, and caustic shredding.
The band is inked to Washington based Vendlus Records, which sports such black metal talents as Wolves In The Thrown Room and Agalloch. In fact, Agalloch’s bassist Jason Walton came in to mix Anno Universum.
Despite sharing their label with noted black metal luminaries, Arkhum shares more with technical death metal acts. I can hear elements of bands like Obscura, Necrophagist and others in their style. Sonically there is a lot going down on this record. If you have A.D.D. just blink and the time signatures or pace will change up. Listen to the track, “Bloodgutter Encircling” which marks the midway point in the album. From aural chaos to brooding piano, this song packs everything that is great about this band.
Arkhum places its focus in the realm of science fiction in terms of lyrical content, which offers them a unique signature. Anno Universum is relatively short by today’s standard; only 8 tracks ringing in at just under 34 minutes. One of those tracks, “Officious Hoverer at L-Point 2”, is a short atmospheric instrumental piece which feels like the soundtrack to a tense moment in an Alien film.
Anno Universum is packed with incredible riffing, and the guitars seem to be the centerpiece of the album. These guys are very proficient, inventive and as solid as they come. Fans of extreme metal will enjoy this record, and I think in time, Arkhum may be one of the shining new talents in the extreme blackened death metal market. However, on this record, the vocals are at times inconsistent with the tone of the songs, and where everything else is tight and brutal, this is an area still in the defining stages.
As a whole, Anno Universum offers a labyrinth of metal intricacies and depth without convoluting their sound. They maintain continuity throughout the record and show immense promise for the future. At this rate, they won’t be unknown for long.
The band is already hard at work on the follow up to Anno Universum, so it will be intriguing to hear how much they improve after starting with such an inspired foundation.
Listen to: “Nilpulse”, “Bloodgutter Encircling”