If you scour the vast underground of metal long enough you are bound to run into a few hidden gems sooner or later. One of the most recent its I can remember that fit such is the debut album from Dragged, “We Summon”, as it was f**king amazing in every but still hardly anyone has heard of it. I had hoped to find something like that with the 2015 label sampler from Transcending Obscurity at the end of said year, and I found just that in the form of a single song by Australian act Arkheth. All I had was a single song for almost exactly a year, but now the whole of Arkheth’s upcoming album has been opened up to me and to say that the album is everything I hoped for would be a criminal understatement.
Right off the bat, we’re going to call Arkheth and the upcoming opus of “12 Winter Moons Comes the Witches Brew” experimental black metal for the sake of ease, but people tend to get real cautious when they see the word experimental. For Arkheth, it means a few things. First and foremost: the whole of this album is driven by an expertly executed saxophone, and it’s a one of a kind addition to black metal that f**king works to staggeringly good effect! Second, there are but a scant five tracks that make up “12 Winter Moons” but not a one sounds like another as each piece stands proudly on its own with unique flavors, atmospheres, attitudes, and execution being unique to each song. That makes “12 Winter Moons” a f**king unbelievably rich experience that never once fumbles on what specific direction it wants to go in. Third and definitely not least, Arkheth masterfully swaps between being a melodic machine of entrancing spells and hypnotic riffs to a full-on assault of death howls, screeching brass, and haunting rhythms that only further draws you into the spell of “12 Winter Moons”.
And by the end of it all, you can see that Arkheth didn’t hold back with being experimental and overall it’s pulled off in truly masterful fashion with such precision that many other bands will never be able to replicate, but Arkheth does it with “12 Winter Moons” as if they’ve been doing it for decades. It’s a richly detailed experience like none other and one that has definitely got me under its spell. There’s nothing wrong with the menagerie of “12 Winter Moons” from the hypnotic saxophone to the unorthodox rhythms to the horrifying atmospheres. I normally don’t say stuff like this but I’d have to argue that Arkheth has made an album that should already be considered a highlight of 2018.
“12 Winter Moons Comes the Witches Brew” releases on February 20th via Transcending Obscurity Records! You can listen to advanced tracks from the album on Bandcamp here.
- Dark Energy Equilibrium
- Where Nameless Ghouls Weep
- The Fool Who Persists In His Folly
- A Place Under the Sun