Arckanum - Sviga Læ
Regain Records
Black Metal
8 songs (37:40)
Release year: 2010
Regain Records
Reviewed by Goat

Call me a cynical old git, but I was left rather startled back when reclusive Swedish shaman/troll-dresser Shamaatae released an album whose title is composed entirely of sideways blown raspberrys, and promptly gained himself critical kudos by the bucketful. The last time I’d heard of his band Arckanum previously to that was when I reviewed a re-release of the 1994 demo Trulen – certainly not bad, but nothing to make my hair stand on end. That’s pretty much how I’d describe latest album Sviga Læ, too, a good album that shows off Shamaatae’s approach to Black Metal well, yet doesn’t do anything particularly impressive beyond that. Mid-paced, hypnotic, vaguely catchy, like Khold sped up and teleported back to the early 90s, this one-man band exists in a cocoon all of its own, and although I am being mean to ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ which is a good album, fans should be prepared for Sviga Læ being a bit of a step-down.

Why? Well, any band that relies on a simplistic formula and good songwriting as much as Arckanum does must be prepared to space their albums out a little better, and just over a year is clearly not enough here. Despite being ten minutes shorter than its predecessor, Sviga Læ notably suffers more in the songwriting department, generally being good but only a couple of times touching the greatness that fans will now expect. Opener Læ Elr is an engrossing bit of hypnotic groove, vocal ‘ughhhhhh!’s ejected from deep within Shamaatae’s soul as the fast-paced melodic riffing does its thing – one immediately notable feature here is that good riffs are repeated rather than followed by other, equally good riffs, and so whether you dig this album will depend upon how easily you fall into a trancelike state. Me, I’m easy like that, I only have to hear a bit of Transilvanian Hunger-esque buzzery to go slack-jawed and empty-eyed, but not all are as fortunate. The following track Gylðir Algørir follows a similar path, ensuring that those still entranced by Læ Elr will remain so and not really notice the change in song.

It’s really when third track In Følva Felr rolls around that things truly kick off. Starting with slow, almost reverential riffs and launching into the sort of catchy mid-paced groover that Shamaatae probably wishes he could write all the time, there’s a point where the hypnotic riffing is so perfect and arresting that you have no option but to give in and feel your consciousness running through an autumn forest pursued by a man dressed as a troll. Sadly, it ends rather than going on for the twenty minutes I could have given it, but the following Goðin Eru Blekkt gets a bit more aggressive and soon takes your mind off it. The album never recaptures that one perfect Black Metal moment, however, and although the likes of Múspellzheimr Kemr and the almost epic Andskoti Ferr Austan have their moments, you do leave the album feeling slightly disappointed, especially decent but out of place acoustic outro Røk. Fortunately, it’s one of those albums that doesn’t really suffer from repeated listens, and although I doubt anyone will be proclaiming it a masterpiece any time soon, Sviga Læ is a perfectly respectable outing for Arckanum and a solid addition to the band’s discography.

Killing Songs :
Læ Elr, In Følva Felr, Múspellzheimr Kemr
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Arckanum that we have reviewed:
Arckanum - Fenris Kindir reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
Arckanum - Kostogher reviewed by Tony and quoted 92 / 100
Arckanum - Helvitismyrkr reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Arckanum - ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ reviewed by Tony and quoted 98 / 100
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