I must confess to being somewhat ambivalent towards ARUM's last offering which really didn't lift it's head above the parapet. There is a new album around the corner, half of which this EP prepares you for.
First impressions are that this indicates a definite improvement, there is greater confidence and clarity behind these compositions, the more relaxed nature providing a more fluid prospect. “Lord Of The Ancient Forest” has a charm to it that you don't often get in Black Metal, the prime mover here is the lead which has an almost 60s psychedelic air about it. ARUM have avoided going for any fastest/ heaviest/evilest contest and concentrated on playing something you might actually want to hear. The rhythm guitar is fairly low in the mix and so this track has a lightness about it, it is infused with a natural energy and it all rather evokes sunlight brightly shining through a full canopy of trees as you race through them.
“Prometheus...” is a harder nosed and darker affair, though the first track's sprightliness is shepherded by the gruffly croaked vocals, this one keeps itself firmly in the shadows with only one or two brief acoustic interludes to hint at the spring in the step of “Lord...” Again, the band don't try for anything over the top, content to gallop along and stir the soot, the grit in the riffs adding to an altogether more abrasive experience. There is a solid, rounded bass trundling just behind the six string emphasis that pushes to the fore midway through to add some graveyard groove. There are sections of frantic drumming but more typically it is the double bass stomp that provides the percussive presence.
The last two tracks are covers, one being from CANUS LUPIS, a previous band for Marcello and one being from VENOM. The first one isn't too far removed from what you hear with “Prometheus..,” it's got a tad more groove about it but shares much of the same character. The VENOM cover is a different kettle of fish though, ARUM have completed a major re haul on “Cry Wolf” and a good one at that. The rabid vocalisation that sounds like the preaching from the snarling beast referred to in the title works really well, better than the original in fact. As you would expect after such a length of time, the sound is beefier but the spirit of the song remains, it is as catchy now as it was then. Nice one.
ARUM have developed in a positive sense and if all the forthcoming album matches what's on offer here then it is definitely a rising curve.
(Online March 5, 2007)