Arckanum - Den Forstfodde - (7/10)
Published on December 29, 2017
While the history behind the Norwegian scene takes a lot of precedence in the black metal world, there was of course plenty of other acts across the globe, and Scandinavia at the same time. One such act was Arckanum, forming in 1992. With plenty of releases over the years in the forms of splits, demos, EPs and full-length, the one-man project has been pretty consistent in releasing material, as well as usually pretty solid on the material being released. 2017 sees this black entity unleashing its ninth full-length, entitled Den Forstfodde via Folter Records. While the album can be hit and miss in some cases, the release is generally a solid slab of black metal that stays true to its roots.
If there is one negative to get out of the way first and foremost, it would be the inconsistency of this particular album. The first couple of tracks really do not give off the best impression, but the release picks up for sure starting on the third track. The opening and longest song on the record feels like a ritual. The chanting vocals and slow music build some good tension, but it feels as if it is building to something that never quite shows up. It becomes cacophonous and almost to the point of noise music before it drowns out and leads to the second track, which sadly comes across to me as fairly nondescript. However, from there on the the album is pretty much a hit. The back to back assault of tracks three and four are great, with plenty of intensity in the vocals and music.
That tends to be the calling card of this album. A track or two that are sower, at times mostly ambient, coming between the faster and more aggressive material. This project is one that tends to thrive when just going all out, which this album proves quite a bit. The faster songs are wonderfully done, with memorable drum patterns, some nice riffs and one hell of a snarled vocal. Head-banging is not required, but hard to avoid when getting into these songs. The slower tracks unfortunately lose some of the momentum the other songs are providing, and take away from the overall enjoyment. However, only three of the overall eight tracks are of the slower side, so one can’t fault the album too much.
Again, while the slower pieces on the album are pretty forgettable, the faster songs are filled with plenty to sink your teeth into. The riffing harkens back to the older days, and there is clearly more in common with second wave black metal than the modern day atmospheric or progressive leanings. The vocal performance, even on the darker and slower tracks is still impressive, and does manage to be varied and memorable. There is quite a lot to like on this release, which is what makes the few falters that much more glaring and stand-out. Sure there would be plenty of people who enjoy both aspects of this album, but there still just feels to be something lost.
Going back throughout the cataloge from Arckanum, there is so much material, that one would expect a few issues here and there. Never-the-less, this project has been pretty solid throughout the last 25 years. While the last couple of albums have left a little to be desired, there is no denying that this one-man entity can still knock it out of the park in the modern scene. Some more focus on the aggressive side here would have proven to be beneficial, but one should also compliment the guy for doing something to try and keep fresh for nearly 30 years. As it stands though, Den Forstfodde is an inconsistent release to me, and one that gets a lot right, but does enough wrong to kill some of the overall enjoyment.