Arcane Wisdom - _Relics of Elder Might_
(Independent, 2003)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
Heed not the history-oriented band name and album title: the music on offer here is a blend of avantgarde black metal akin to some of what Borknagar and Arcturus have done recently -- epic-sounding but not looking to capture the ancient forest feel of a band like Summoning. While this kind of avantgarde tendencies may be a sign of over-ambitious musicians in the early stages of their careers trying to bite a piece they won't be able to chew, in this case Arcane Wisdom actually pull it off very well. The reason for that lies partly in the fact that they are able to retain enough uniqueness in their sound to avoid coming across as second-rate clones of the aforementioned bands. Furthermore, in spite of being an unsigned act, Arcane Wisdom are actually very good at what they do -- in other words, _Relics of Elder Might_ is not a half-baked attempt at creating grandiose, epic blackened metal. There is plenty of talent and ideas to be found on this disc, which is remarkably well rounded considering the band's relative lack of experience. Blackened vocals alternate with well-suited clean ones, with a complex sonic background of guitar and drum work as well as synths and a variety of other instruments. Borknagar's superb _Empiricism_ is the album that comes to my mind most often during opener "Misanthropic Horror Magnified", while "Maelstroms of Majestic Night" adopts a more aggressive stance during its first half before becoming more melodic afterwards. "Symphonia Chaos" loses some of the momentum by exploring arrangements that sound more avantgarde but are generally less interesting, but the more melancholic "Theatre Unfolds" raises the level again. In addition to these four tracks (each of them seven to eight minutes long), one can also find two instrumentals -- one a very good acoustic song, the other more synthetic. The quality of the instrumental work, songwriting and production throughout _Relics of Elder Might_ is made all the more impressive by the fact that this is an independent release, but I suspect Arcane Wisdom won't stay unsigned for much longer.


(article published 8/6/2003)

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