Swedish black metal entity Arckanum - led by Shamaatae – have been a constant presence on the chaos-driven scene since the band’s early 90s inception and their material is as prolific as it is devastatingly weird and wonderful. Arckanum have always been a little, well, bonkers, and Fenris Kindir is no exception to that rule. From the career highlight of ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ to the strange and unusual sounds of their latest release, Arckanum aren’t a project to play by the rules.
The washed out beats and waves of outro of “Tungls Tjúgari” lead seamlessly into the sweeping guitar lines of “Dólgrinn” and the feeling that you’re in the presence of a true (mad) genius. The pace flips and changes with nary a hint of the coming storm and Shamaatae’s voice growls over it all with a mighty and commanding power before the weirdness of the previous track raises its ugly head again. Curious echoing noises fill the space left by the song before “Hatanir” kicks in with a black and roll fury. These little segues do little to add to the atmosphere of the record and to be fair, could probably be left out entirely without affecting the album at all. Inserting auras into the soundscape isn’t a bad thing of course (see “Hamrami” for when instrumental tracks work) but these tagged on sections feel like an afterthought. A shame, but not a dealbreaker - skip past them and all will the right (wrong?) with the world again.
The intensity of “Vargold” and it’s genuine terrifying progression into hell is led by a minimal sound and the proclamations of Shamaatae in deep, echoing terms. There’s a horror to be felt during this track and despite it’s stripped back sound there’s a lot to take in - although listening too closely may bring about some kind of demonic force, be careful guys. The gears are kicked higher with following songs “Angrboda” and “Spell” which both churn and writhe with a deadly and sensual tone before “Solbols Sigr” closes Fenris Kindir on obtuse strings and abstract crescendos of noise. No rules, not ever.
Fenris Kindir isn’t the best Arckanum record out there, but there’s a lot to delve into and Shamaatae’s personal beliefs creep in often enough to make the record a heck of a lot more interesting that most black metal out there right now. Arckanum have been on a steady path and whilst this album may not hit the heights of ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ, it’s still a crazy enjoyable ride into the many facets of Chaos-Gnosticism.
7.8 / 10
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