Reviewed: July 2021
Released: 2021, Depressive Illusion Records
Reviewer: Demitri Levantis
Epic black metal is a subgenre that officially came into its own over the last decade, particularly with bands like Caladan Brood, Elderwind and Sojourner leading the onslaught of musicians combining the evil anguish and ferocity of black metal with the epic ranges normally associated with the upbeat qualities of other genres like folk and power metal.
Though, like all subgenres, there are bands to maintain the epic qualities but manages to retain the raw and raspy noise and anger of black metal’s routes, such as Canada’s Artach.
The duo from St Johns, Newfoundland have returned with their sophomore release, “Sworn to Avenge,” which as the title suggests, avenges the evil roots of the epic black metal genre, and keeps the raspy and guttural violence at the helm and the melodic side below. This makes it a release ideal for any black metal fan who wants something vicious but elongated.
Song lengths and depth of each track paint a picture of the tundra and ice-capped wastes that have inspired this band, hailing from a country known for its vast emptiness. It is, therefore, no wonder a Canadian band would revel in the savages of winter that spring from each track through Fiochmhar’s vocals and cut right to the bone through Sruthan’s excellent guitar riffs.
Sworn to Avenge is one release for those who love epic songs and the types who sit down to listen to their record collection. This proved to be a little hard for me with my low attention span, but even for the easily distracted there is a memorable vibe arching over this hour-long tome of glacial, wintry darkness.
Overall, check out Artach for a truly epic journey into the wildernesses that populate the dark fantasy land conjured through their excellent music. This sophomore album tells me that this is a band that will be releasing much good material for years to come and will soon be headlining the epic black metal stages or charts both online and at festivals. An excellent job all round.