13 Arcane Hymns
Released: 2010, Indie
Summer is a great time for discovering new music. This month I’d like to introduce our readers to seven newer bands from the province of Alberta, Canada. I’ve asked some local bands of different styles to participate and they all said yes. Western Canada is already well-known in the global scene with veteran bands like Three Inches of Blood, Into Eternity and Divinity and so now we introduce to a crop of promising young hopefuls from Alberta. Feel free to check out the other reviews in this series including Chron Goblin, Derailed, Hellrazer, Kobra And The Lotus, Mares Of Thrace, and Striker.
Another brand new band has entered the sweepstakes of metal. Having only got this disc recently I have had the least time to absorb, appreciate and embrace it out of all the others in this feature. However, it was too good to leave out of my feature, so I hope my comments do the band justice. The Unravelling are another two-piece and likely the ‘heaviest’ in the feature. I put the term heaviest in quotes only to emphasize that it is a pretty nebulous term that means different things to different people. It is certainly the most progressive and darkest project I have heard in a while.
Out of the gate the first thing I notice is the disc sounds amazing. A really pro-job of getting the sounds down on the disc. Well done. The packaging is also top-notch, well laid out and presented. The photos of Steve (no instrument credits) and Gustavo (again, no instruments credited) are unique and interesting, a far cry above the standard band shot of guys in leather, obligatory Metal T-shirt against a brick wall in a back alley or something. They are kind of creepy and foreboding (sort of a bloody, mafia, gravedigger, hide the body motive) and I suppose match the something unorthodox tunes within.
Sonically this is one of the harder local acts to describe. That’s a good thing, when you can’t easily be catalogued. I hear so many elements in the song-writing of bands I admire and respect on a bit of cult-level. Name-dropping is a kinda lame way to articulate a bands sound, but when listening to 13 ARCANE HYMNS I hear the awesome harmonized, layered vocals of something as light as Extreme, Enuff Z’ Nuff or best yet Saigon Kick (on crack). Really smooth, really well delivered layers of vocals styles adds a dynamic effect. In terms of guitar and drums the band is nowhere in the genre of those aforementioned bands but I’m hearing many genres, little, splashes of Death Metal, big tasty chunks of Prog metal, bands like perhaps, Hammers Of Misfortune, some of the more experimental Grindcore like when Pig Destroyer did the Natasha EP. Many of the songs have a strong ambient or atmospheric component, inter-spliced with acoustic guitar, clean vocals and harsh vocals. Again so many diverse and interesting sounds, Tool, Opeth, the quirkiness or Faith No More, the oddity of recent Celtic Frost, man, this thing is just all over the map!
13 ARCANE HYMNS is an extremely dynamic, compositionally interesting and full engaging listen. The lyrics are certainly introspective but angry and rebellious at the same time, certainly not your typical girls, cars and party lyrics. It’s not shocking since Steve who writes all the lyrics lists such figures as, Malcolm X, Chuck D., Henry Rollins and Noam Chomsky as influences. Some bands just thank Jack Daniels as their ‘influence’ and leave it at that! If you are looking for something more cerebral, dark with class and quality to spare, and that is waaay outside the traditional metal realm (but still heavy as hell) you will need to check out The Unravelling.