Death Metal has splintered into sub-genres perhaps more than any other genre of Metal and splintered so far that there becomes a huge differentiation between the likes of Slam, Old School and Melodic just to give a few examples. It has also perhaps seen the most widespread approval from mainstream society out of all of the Extreme Metal genres which seems bizarre given its content. Sure Black Metal may be coined as a more household term but it is through Death Metal’s influence that we come to the modern age of Metal whether that be for better or for worse that is for the listener to decide. Bubbling away however over the last few years there has been an explosion of what one might term ‘trve’ Death Metal bands, but who and what exactly are they?
One such band would be the Swiss newcomers Arkhaaik a troupe affiliated to the Helvetic Underground Committee, a collection of musicians aiming to bring diabolical sonic torment to the world of music. Other such bands in this group include Death. Void. Terror., Kvelgeyst and personal favourites of mine Dakhma. Arkhaaik offer us cavernous, bestial, rough and ready Doom laden Death Metal through the ever reliable Iron Bonehead Productions. Their oddly named debut full length *dʰg̑ʰm̥tós promises to deliver upon the bands brief, but will it destroy us or merely become a failed attempt and desolation?
If you have a penchant for the obscure, contemporary and weird the the opening paradoxically archaic sixteen minute titan u̯iHrós i̯émos-kʷe is sure to please. Its huge Drone heavy Death Metal sound is equal parts mesmerizing, ambient and apocalyptic. It is through these strange contradictory facets that the album comes to life, in one sense it feels like this massive anthem displayed to millions yet on the other hand it feels personal, insular and graven. The guitars are naturally very distorted flicking with notions of melody but namely become a solemn blob of audible terror. The vocals take a similar guttural path, daemonic and passionate they come across as almost melancholic at points. The drums finally hold everything together ensuring the cavernous sound is upheld throughout.
Title track *dʰg̑ʰm̥tós is a more ritualistic affair complimented with chants, chimes and the usual ideals one comes to expect from this brand of hellish Blackened grime. Dare I say almost Gregorian in delivery and giving off a somewhat religious sense it’s a track that deviates from the cavernous and fits well in this Drone chasm of an album. The third and final track u̯rsn̥gwhé̄n then weaves in with further Death Metal desecration, sort of like a lengthy version of Incantation, which for me at least is a massive bonus. This track comes across with some fresh ferocity aiding in the gargantuan journey of this bestial monolith.
I’ve likely said it many times before but this sort of Death Metal suits just about anyone with an Extreme Metal background. If Black Metal is your pleasure or Death Metal is your desire then this combination of worshipful mayhem will most certainly be for you. Clocking in at just over thirty minutes *dʰg̑ʰm̥tós feels like so much longer, and I mean that with the greatest respect, for I speak of the encapsulating trip that this record takes us on. A complete overhaul of the senses that really brings us to the halls of the damned and praying for the darkest hells. A stand out performance and a band whom I hope to hear more from in the future.
(8/10 George Caley)