Released: 2009, Debemur-Morti
Reviewer: Alan Gilkeson
In spite of its release on a really crappy label in '95, FRAN MARDER and the two subsequent Arckanum records enjoyed a nice amount of underground praise, surprising since Shamaatae is from Sweden, coming around a couple of years after the true beginnings of the Norse Black Metal scene. And let's face it, a good chunk of the Norwegian aftermath has been copycat at best. However, Arckanum's embrace of Swedish mythology separated him from the growing number of Black Metal bands embracing the Norwegian point of view.
While FRAN MARDER is not the best work from Shamaatae, it's certainly quite an intro to his forest influenced chaos-gnosticism, both in the poetics of the ancient Swedish lyrics he uses, and the very ambient, lurking, and at times spooky sounds of his vocals, and the texture of the music. It's all very simple as well. Nowhere does he attempt to be very technical. Instead the sound is very raw, maybe even a little sloppy, but it seems intentional, very brazen and thrashy.
In Black Metal we often talk about atmosphere, ambience, aura, mood, etc. This is where Arckanum succeeds. Shamaatae's voice, very throaty, combined with the ancient Swedish language, every word echoed like a scream in the forest, gives way to a brash bombastic approach in the guitar playing. Still, there are a number of chunky riffs, like on tracks 6 and 8 (no, I will not attempt to write down these crazy ancient titles). Also there are a few spots with a female vocal that play very nicely. Definitely a nice pick up, especially if you're into following the genesis and evolution of Black Metal.