Arkheth is not the most productive band in the world. Having released its debut album in 2003 and a successor in 2010, they took another eight years to come up with “12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew”. The new album marks a new era for Arkheth, which is no longer a real band, but a solo effort of Tyraenos, who is taking care of all the instruments and vocals himself.

Looking at the artwork of “12 Winter Moons…”, people might expect something psychedelic here, but Arkheth plays symphonic avant-garde black metal. Having enjoyed my fair share of Arcturus, Limbonic Art and The Kovenant in the past, I was quite interested in the taste of this Australian brew, yet I got left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Listening to “12 Winter Moons…” is like going twenty years back in time, when most black metal albums suffered from a rather weak production quality. The album sounds completely powerless, also lacking the raw menace that defines the black metal genre. Obviously, this can be compensated by clever songwriting and good musicianship, but Arkheth fails to impress in those aspects as well. It’s like listening to a cacophony of underdeveloped ideas, executed with mediocre instrumental and poor vocal skills. Bringing a saxophone and some jazz elements into the mix adds some originality to Arkheth’s music, yet it fails to impress me altogether. Perhaps some fanatics with an epic amount of ’90s nostalgia might find something of their liking here, but I’m having trouble swallowing this strange brew.

(5/10 Lykle Thijssen)