Arckanum - Helvitismyrkr
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
8 songs (49:52)
Release year: 2011
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

“Fuck me, a new Arckanum album, already!” were words that flashed across many a reviewers’ mind when they saw Helvítismyrkr waiting patiently in their promotional inbox, not least mine. Troll-dressing recluse Shamaatae has been releasing an album a year since his sudden return from the void with 2008’s Antikosmos, and although the tongue-pleasing ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ gained him critical kudos, last year’s Sviga Læ was a widely-acknowledged step down in quality. Despite that, Shamaatae has managed to get himself signed to the increasingly impressive Season Of Mist label and I suppose if Helvítismyrkr proves anything it’s that serious black metal talent resides somewhere deep in his trollish heart. Still driven by catchy riffs that form mountains of atmospheric pleasure, Arckanum’s basic formula is now firmly set in stone, and despite this album following more or less in the precise footsteps of its predecessor, it’s still just about the better release.

Why? Well, there’s an audible hunger evident from the go that gives the likes of opening cut Helvitt that bit of extra oomph, those guitar riffs even more angular and willing to be bent to whatever purpose Shamaatae desires. Whether buried beneath blastbeats or cranking out the catchiness in moments of unaccompanied headbanging glee, the guitars are what form Helvítismyrkr’s backbone, and it’s there that the (relatively few) problems also arise. The slips into hypnotic atmosphere that arise in the album here and there, such as towards the end of Myrkrin Vinna Hefnt, never lasts long enough to have the Burzum-like effect that they should, in this case cutting out and switching to Ór Djúpum, a black metal shred-a-thon that bypasses atmosphere in favour of making the listener headbang their way into a coma.

Being fair to Shamaatae, each moment generally has the effect that it's designed for, but you can’t help but get the impression that Helvítismyrkr isn’t sure what it wants to be. Only sometimes does this album manage to make your neckhairs rise at the same time as you bang it; the melodic rush of Nifldreki just about managing it, the speedy riffs and crushing tempo changes of Svartr ok Þursligr more like it with some eerie fiddle adding heaps of atmosphere. What you have to get used to is the way that the album brings these various songs together and makes you sit and listen to them, one after the other – and yes, it works, by and large. A few weak tracks drag this album down a little – the slow, overly self-assured crunch of In Svarta is too repetitive and filler-y, whilst by the time you’ve reached Þrúðgelmis Hlaut the formula will be wearing a little thin...

...Yet thirteen-minute finale Sísoltinn / Outro shows that Shamaatae has a few tricks up his sleeve, slowing the riffs and introducing an effective vocal cacophony that brings the album to a pleasantly strange close. Personally, I’m yet to hear the album of true genius that Shamaatae’s fans clearly see in each waft of his cape, yet I can see enough hints of it to keep listening, and to enjoy giving praise where it’s due – and praise is due frequently when you’re listening to Arckanum. This isn’t a fantastic album, but it’s an extremely good one, and those fans who have followed the band thus far will eat it up. Everyone else, on the other hand, is increasingly missing out on a good thing.

Killing Songs :
Helvitt, Myrkrin Vinna Hefnt, Ór Djúpum, Nifldreki, Svartr ok Þursligr, Sísoltinn / Outro
Goat quoted 79 / 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 - Sviga Læ reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
Arckanum - ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ reviewed by Tony and quoted 98 / 100
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