I think this is the debut full length from this Czech Republic group, after a couple of EPs, and as such from the off with ‘A Testament To Failure’ I’m impressed with the full on sound they have created even if the production seems a bit functional rather than enhancing. They play black metal but of a highly melodic and almost gothic flavour to it, with lots of swooping melody lines across the tempestuous sounding riffs. The vocals are gruff tasks and cries for the majority of the time and if I’m being honest, which I always try to be, they are a tad generic with little individual character coming through. Really, despite being good, they could be fronting a hundred other bands.
Funnily enough by the time I reach the third track, ‘Consuming The Aurora’ I’m not really thinking black metal at all, there is an undeniable tug of melodic, up tempo death metal here, the kind that reaches up into the progressive and almost power metal realms. This kind of bursts into life fully on the rather lovely ‘None Shall Remain’. I’m suddenly transported back to 2001 and the album Timeless Departure by Swedish band Skyfire. This is all about the epic and the expansive, burning horizons and a sense of loss. Yeah, a really fine song.
See even though some songs like ‘A Garden Lies Barren’ don’t exactly blow me away, even here there is real air of class about Arthedain. I know genre is in the ear of the beholder (!) but once I shook off the expectations of their up front ‘black metal’ tag and actually listened and pushed beyond the machine gun drumming I hear a rather good melodic death metal band with a penchant for the odd black metal melodic refrain. Yeah, it’s all splitting hairs I know. All you want to know is how good it is.
As a debut this is full of promise really. On the first listen my heart sank a little as it came across as a bit too generic, but that’s the beauty of music; the more you allow it to wash over you, the more you find and that is certainly the case With Arthedain. With less black metal genre bound songs like the aforementioned ‘None Shall Remain’ and the mournful but still kind of uplifting and epic sounding ‘As One’ they shown they also have the heart of songwriters too. Yes there are obvious black metal songs here like ‘Where Nonexistence Is All’ but frankly for me they are far less interesting (which for a black metal fan like myself is an odd state of affairs). I wonder if they are older in origin, or if the band is still young enough to be undecided which direction to go.
If so for what it may be worth I’d ditch trying to write black metal and just write and see what happens as for me the best songs here are those furthest from that root where their song writing is unrestrained.
Still, regardless, it’s a promising debut and worth a look. Be fascinated to see where they go next.