Wormwood - Arkivet
Black Lodge
Melodic Black Metal
7 songs (46'44")
Release year: 2021
Black Lodge
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the year

I often have a tendency to get antsy about a followup album from a previously unknown to me band after I rated its predecessor very highly. That was exactly the case with Swedish Wormwood. Nattarvet was absolutely fantastic, so when I learned that two years later the band had another album I was almost hesitating to track it down, afraid it wouldn’t live up to expectations. Two or three weeks of practically non-stop listens to Arkivet, and not only all of my worries have been dispelled, I will go and announce it as my Album of the Year, not to look back any further. With Arkivet Wormwood continued their proliferation of the gold mine they uncovered on Ghostlands and expanded greatly with Nattarvet. Arkivet is extreme metal music which appeals greatly to me. Melodic is understatement to describe it, while black can still be loosely applied, while Wormwood themselves can attest that the epithet is way too narrow.

If you don’t need your black metal to be lo-fi and compressed into a paper thin profile, but instead seek absolutely sweeping melodies, don’t mind clean production and bulging enveloping sound, Arkivet will knock you off your feet. Windswept, rugged, desperate, vulnerable, gripping, all of these emotions are pouring out of compositions like The Archive or End of Message, with the band not concerned in the slightest with genre purity. Compositions like Overgrowth may even border on progressive, with extensive solos and synth arrangements hinting of Dark Tranquillity or Insomnium. Constantly building and towering, through the darker passages or cleaner intermezzos (The Archive, My Northern Heart), all Wormwood cares about is passion and emotion and Arkivet has both in droves. At times the album even sounds as a soundtrack to a Scandinavian movie, with a native instrument taking a prominent position (My Northern Heart). Bands like Kampfar or Windir crafted their art in similar ways, although Wormwood is a lot less outright folky, but I have a feeling Windir probably would have ended up on a similar creative plane after Likferd if fate didn’t cut Valfar’s life so cruelly short. Vocally, Nine (Geord Ekbladh) can be cleaner and sound particularly hurt, like one sore giant troll, but most of the time he is growling, fire breathing, multiplying his vocal lines (My Northern Heart) or putting out particularly soul tearing yells next to a soul tearing melody (Ensamheten). Then take cover art and lyrics. Normally, I probably wouldn’t pay attention or discuss these in the review. Yet when Arkivet music makes such a statement, its all white cover art simplicity with not fancy font silver letters makes for a stark contrast with this harmonic wall of music. Reading through the lyrics, not only are Wormwood compositions deep and meaningful, they are quite exquisite and poetic for non-English speakers to address the planet's environmental disasters and human impact so profoundly.

Never in an outright hurry, some songs here, like The Slow Drown, are even slower and more deliberate, yet they soar to the skies just the same. To close, after all of the darkness and apocalyptic and alarmist spoken voice TV news samples, The Gentle Touch of Humanity could not have been more uplifting and hopeful in the end. If there is one album to lift you out of the doldrums after applying a healthy dose of cleansing it is Arkivet. I simply cannot get enough of it and even writing this made me hungry yet again for another repeat listen.

Killing Songs :
Not a single weak track
Alex quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Wormwood that we have reviewed:
Wormwood - Nattarvet reviewed by Alex and quoted 94 / 100
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