Death metal in the current era is unfortunately met with a divide among generational fans, effectively causing a bit of an old-head vs youth situation. If you’re just getting into the genre now, you’re probably brought into this world by bands such as Fit for an Autopsy, Thy Art is Murder or maybe The Black Dahlia Murder. Bands who certainly bring a fair deal of heaviness, but with a focus on being as offensively loud as their production will enable them to be. We then have the traditionalists of the genre, who are wearing their Death and Morbid Angel cassette-tapes thin, avidly dismiss this new sonic direction of the genre at the sound of a reverbed snare. The brutality about the style in their eyes is the filthy, visceral attitude that reeks of musical havoc, and is in no way neatened by any fancy shmancy production hacks. That’s where a band like Arkaik come in with their new record Nemethia, proving that they definitely fit snuggly in the modern technical death-core cannon, but the brutality feels just as freakish and obnoxious as a classic Gorguts record. It takes the accessible side of heavy music and pushes it into challenging territory.
Arkaik have previously sat in the deathcore side of the spectrum, gravitating a little towards tech-death here and there, but it’s mainly been about the heavy breakdowns and hardcore screams for them. But on this new record, they are worn themselves into many different outfits of prog and tech-death, in a mind-bending experience full of double-kick trills and shredding. The opener ‘Occultivation’ sets this record off ablaze with a speedy riff against machine-gun drumming, with the band keeping us engaged by throwing in dissonant chords, off-kilter grooves and a sweeping guitar solo with an oddly gentle tone. ‘Futile State’ displays one of the most chaotic moments on the record with it’s chaotic, maximal opening, only to progress into one of the most terrifying breakdowns of the year. The track’s (realtively) short 3-minute length is a rapid fire of technical twists and turns built on this breakdown, with excerpts of dialogue and searing guitar solos added to the mixing pot. These guys can create an explosion of bustling fusion of technical deathcore if they must, but that’s just in their fundamentals on this record, they decide to push and go much further than that on Nemethia.
Their progressive, experimental side comes through in tracks like ‘Of Violence and Pestilence Born’, ‘Telegnosis’ and particularly ‘Order of Heirogon’, with the last of these being a 9-minute odyseey filled to the brim with over-the-top instrumental wizardry. There’s moments of orchestral strings that begin the tracks off, setting a theatrical, dramatic mood which only enhances the bombast of Arkaik’s brand of metal. ‘Order of Heirogon’ is ridden with ragtime piano breaks that break the track up from one blasting tech-death section to the next. The band’s dynamic range is further stretched by the clean guitar passages towards the end, that are particularly powerful on the closing track ‘Nexion Stargate’ as it’s then coupled with a slow, melodic lead guitar before jumping back into the fiery death riffs.
There’s a lot to appreciate about the sheer audacity Arkaik display in bringing in such eclectic, off-the-wall experimentation into what could be called a prog-deathcore album here. Even if this super-produced sound isn’t your preferred style of death metal, it’s cool to sit back and be wowed by musical prowess when it’s deserved.
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Nemethia releases on September 29th. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp to pre-order it. Stay tech.