Arvas - _Black Satanic Mysticism_
(Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum, 2015)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
This album is a tremendous treat for the seekers of aggressive yet well written black metal. But wait, is it black metal? It sure is, in the death and thrash metal sense. If there ever was a black/death/thrash combo as effective as any of the aforementioned styles' most virile representatives when standing alone, then this album is -the- shit; the culmination of hate, aggression, despair and fucking blind frustration -- all amplified by and ornamented with a highly satanic aura.

Arvas are an angry bunch of Norwegians playing hardcore-punk fueled, thrash metal influenced black fucking metal of the stripped down kind, yet with a high sense of melody and an accentuated melodic edge. You might find yourself reminiscing over the sound of Impaled Nazarene, with their nuclear-themed, dystopian, cyber-punk black metal aesthetics being resurrected during your listening to _Black Satanic Mysticism_, and maybe, just maybe conjure a vague memory of the cold and ruthless sound of Mysticum's _In the Streams of Inferno_, but Arvas have a strong affinity to melody, despite their attempt at being as violent as they possibly can. The deathly part of their metal comes in the form of their ability to play their music so hard and heavy, that it no longer sounds like black metal, let alone Norwegian-sounding black metal, despite its primitive nature. The black metal part dissolves in front of the sheer heaviness and conviction the music emanates, and thus, it becomes something else: bigger, better, badder. Even the texts are comprised of classic death metal lyrics where torture and pain inflicted upon the carnal human body are basically the main lyrical themes of the album.

Upon listening to "Flames of Black", the first real track of the album, it sounded so very death metal to these ears, in the most devilish of ways, especially when coupled with the lyrics of that particular song and the way the words were spewed ("Flames, flames, flames, You slowly feel no pain, You slowly cave in, You hear those voices, Voices from men dying...", et cetera). Even though the lyrics aren't exactly something Shakespeare would have written, they are still effective enough to kick some ass, aided by the powerful and vile music.

Try to imagine for a second Sadistik Exekution playing black metal in their own unique, highly energetic, high-pitched style. Take any of their classics and just give them a black metal twist. Or imagine how Sadus would have sounded like had they aspired to play a little more black and a little less thrash metal, Sadus-style. This is pretty much how _Black Satanic Mysticism_ sounds, and no matter how violent, fast or aggressive it becomes, there's always a melodic streak that ties all the flaying ends together into a bundle of a beautiful sonic ugliness.

The opening and closing tracks, instrumental from beginning to end, provide undisputed evidence of this band's talent: the former a neoclassical piece and the latter composed of incredibly beautiful guitar-generated soundscapes, both give us a clue to the know-how this band of angry Norwegians possesses. But the real treat is the metal aspect, between those two instrumental tracks: barren and simplistic, yet enigmatic and ritualistic in essence, these incredibly violent moments disclose an aspiration for melody. Sometimes it will show its face in the mesmerizing riffs, some other times it will appear in the occasional, sparse keyboards or in the change in tone of the vocals, from the half-shrieking, half-vomiting banshee type to the hermetic and monk-like chanting of sorts -- the melody is -always- there, and it allows you to explore, half-fascinated, what else is lurking in the shadows of this radiating dark gem.

Naturalistic and venomous, this album is rooted deep in the soils of humanity's cultural birthplace, where violence co-existed with the worship of natural forces and where art was crude, primitive yet honest and sincere, without any commercial or other aspiration, other than being a mere method of expression, mirroring the visions and sentiments nature had bestowed upon those primitive artists. Such as this album. Dark and bloody, hostile to the very bone yet honest and true to itself, designed to cast awe and fear unto those who listen, not unlike those ancient cave paintings that inspired and intimidated in the same time.

So what did we just listen to, really? Impaled Nazarene, Mysticum, a twist of Sadistik Exekution and some Sadus as well; a well crafted aural mongrel with the ugly face of death metal's most depraved aesthetics. Take this wonderful mishmash, fuse the elements seamlessly together, add some neoclassical and progressive sensibilities, and ta-da! you get -this- album.

In a class of its own, _Black Satanic Mysticism_ can be anyone's tool of transcendence; whether you ascend with this tool to become greater and bigger than your current self, or whether you decide the other way around, to descend into the pits of sub-human existence and wallow in your own filth -- is entirely up to you; remember this, however: this album can help you accomplish both.

Choose your path.


(article published 2/5/2015)

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