Arckanum - _Kostogher_
(Necropolis Records, 1997)
by: Henry Akeley (9 out of 10)
It seems quite fitting that I'm writing this shortly after watching everything in sight get viciously pelted with hailstones almost as big as baseballs. (That is no exaggeration!) For like the unrelenting hailstorm which I just witnessed, the music of one-man forest metal batallion Shamaatae just bombards you with a barrage of atmosphere and aggression, fueled by nature's harsh, primal vibe. Like the debut CD _Fran Marder_, this is straight-ahead, aggressive black metal with an expansive guitar sound, catchy vocal phrasings, great drumming, and heavy forest atmospheres. Ambience is built up not only through the tasteful use of nocturnal wilderness sound effects, but also through distortion-dripping guitar tones which somehow manage to sound loud, clear, and faraway all at once - like an earth-shaking roar, heard from over the horizon and through the trees. Turned up loud, Arckanum has a thick, enveloping sound which benefits from a good, live-sounding mix. Thankfully free of more mainstream metal influences, this is unswerving aggressive black metal with underlying catchiness and surprising power and weight. There's also a good number of varied embellishments to the core sound. Shamaatae's voice is pushed to its limit, and perhaps even beyond it, in places. Chanting, uncaring female vocals are used sparingly but well on a number of tracks, as is a violin. Or maybe it's a cello, or a viola. Hell, I don't know. (I also don't know what the laughable screeching which opens the first instrumental track is doing there.) Anyway, even with the occasional weak spot, _Kostogher_ really succeeds when regarded as it was clearly meant to be regarded: as an album-length synthesis of creativity and true blackened harshness.

(article published 7/6/1997)

8/12/1997 S Hoeltzel Arckanum: The Wood Is His 'Hood
7/8/1998 A Wasylyk 2 Arckanum - Kampen
5/10/1996 A Bromley 6 Arckanum - Fran Marder
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