Archaicus | ‘Beneath The Horizon’
No beating around the bush: this is the most varied, most atmospheric and darkest black metal I have heard in a very very long time. Its rare that a demo will gain the Album of the Month title here on old Metalireland, but once in a while a crappy looking xeroxed cd-r comes along that blows the proper releases completely out of the water. And this time its all down to a chap from Birmingham.
With a little help from one Irrumator whose name you will doubtless be familiar with through a certain other breakthrough English BM band of recent years, J Yonge has crafted a hornets nest of Black Metal grimnity that not only rivals but excells most of the BM releases of the last year.
From the very first notes of this incredible demo the tone is set, with the ice cold guitars and frosty drums, massively reverbed vocals (the way black metal should be) with not even a scintilla of a major harmony to be discrened. But what really gets me is the band’s intelligent use of chord work which is well outside the norm. Highly reminiscent of Mayhem’s completely overlooked yet savage “Wolfs Layer Abyss” for the unsettling chordal shifts and palpable influence of Blasphemer’s guitar stylings, this is a cd packed to the brim with spiteful potential.
The three tracks and sixteen minutes contained in here are a sheer Black Metal masterclass. Even more impressive is the inclusion of solemn instrumental sections, effortlessly redolent of the best Summoning (now that is good), all topped off with some super aggressive blast work. But what I really, really like about this cd, and this is something that floats my boat in any extreme genre, is the use of acoustics in the mix.
One of Archaicus’ main lietmotifs is the dropping back into a haunting, somewhere-in-the-distance acoustic section. It only ever lasts a second or two, but its just exquisite. There are so many influences across this cd, but they are channelled into an entity that has its own unique personality. I am shocked that this hasnt been picked up on so far, and I gather the band are currently recording a follow up with a more intensely mediaeval flavour.
All you need to know is that this cd is verging on essential to anyone with a real interest to Black Metal, and miss it at your peril… the rare recommendation is attained with ease, and I could ask for no better listening to smash into 2004.
Earl Grey ::: 05/01/04