Arkheth is a one-man band from Australia. I’ve never really heard much about this band, and I’m usually pretty up-to-date with Australian black metal bands, but I was genuinely impressed when listening to Arkheth’s third release ’12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew’. Judging by the rest of his discography, Arkheth has really stepped out of the usual black metal sound and into something the same, yet completely different. ’12 Winter Moons’ has all the familiar trademarks of black metal, but with avant-garde/progressive tinges to spice things up. It makes for a very interesting record.
The album starts off with Trismegistus. The opening seconds are mysterious and sound like they’re straight out of a halloween movie. Mysterious weeping, chimes rattling, thunder and rain. The song then really starts with fast drum beats and guitars with a haunting vibe to them. This whole album permeates a Hans Christen Anderson feel, it feels like a dark fairytale. The vocals are suitably deranged for an album of this calibre. The production of this album is impeccable, sounding crystal clear but still raw and aggressive at times. Unorthodox instruments are used very well on this track, and many of the others. Instruments like saxophones and various chimes add complexity and detail that will take you many listens to digest. The guitars at the end of Trismegistus are absolutely spellbinding and hypnotizing, the riff sends you into a spiral of madness. It’s an awesome introduction of what is to come.
Dark Energy Equilibrium starts off slow, with an uncertain sound and an eerie feel. What follows is a marathon of acid-black-jazz goodness that is perhaps one of the most unique things I have heard. The vocalist recounts a grim version of childhood nursery rhymes that’ll send a chill down your spine. This song is about as complicated as it’s title. Dark Energy Equilibrium is a triumphant example of how experimental black metal is pushing the boundaries of the so-called stale genre. Arkheth breathes new life into old ideas. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the saxophone on this track. The guitars on this track have an indistinguishable sound that is unlike anything else I have heard. It’s an eerie song that is technically marvellous.
Where Nameless Ghouls Weep has a riff that sounds like it drank too much wine. It’s a mid-paced trudge of a song that has different vocals from all the other songs. The vocals do sound incredibly ghoulish and serve the song’s down-trodden atmosphere and feel very well. This song honestly sounds like something Alice Cooper would create, if he were a bit heavier and deranged. This is possibly the grooviest song on the album, with a catchy riff that’ll have your head bopping along. The latter half of the song is sort of reminiscent of Acid Witch, a band that specializes in making music that sounds straight from a schlocky b-horror movie. It’s definitely a compliment though, I love Acid Witch. This is one of my favourite tracks from the album.
The Fool Who Persists In His Folly is a chaotic maelstrom of experimental goodness that sounds like a Frank Zappa fever dream. It’s a rather fast song with a saxophone screaming down your ear. The clean vocals are really awesome about a third of the way through the song. Every song on ’12 Winter Moons’ sounds so different to each other. It’s an awesome display of variety. The Fool Who Persists In His Folly has an operatic, full-bodied sound. It’s the shortest song the album, but it still leaves an impression on the mind.
A Place Under The Sun has a sombre start that sounds like something straight out of a Midnight Odyssey album. It builds up into a fairly slow song with a somewhat calming quality to it. This song has a sorrowful quality to it, something I truly adore about black metal. This is the most beautiful song on this album, and is a perfect finisher to such an amazing album. I was sad when this album finished, but you can always come back and find something new to appreciate about it. Arkheth’s newest effort is a triumphant success in my eyes. It’s definitely one of my favorites of the year so far. Any fans of progressive or avant-garde black metal with atmospheric qualities should definitely listen.