Sunday, 25 November 2012

Arkham Witch - Legions of the Deep (album review)

From the opening synchopated blasts of "David Lund", I get that good old time metal feeling.  I'm not talking about emotions.  I'm talking about physical sensations.  The symptoms of 'metalhead syndrome'.  The stiffness of sore necks and pulled muscles, a cold beer in one hand, horns raised in the other.  The stench of jean jacketed B.O.  The sensation of ears burning from getting too hyper and a slight trace of heartburn and nausea.  Welcome to the Legions of the Deep.

Arkham Witch is a traditional Heavy Metal band from Keighley, in northern England that is schooled in the doom idiom.  This is their second album and first on Metal on Metal records.  From the start they get their inspiration from occultists and H.P. Lovecraft, which makes them a winner when just looking at the song titles.  On the cover is Cthulhu himself, so the listener knows what they're in for.

The opening of first track "David Lund" is a blast from the metallic past and announces the band's style and musical intentions right off the bat.  A stuttering intro that spills into a big, slow, heavy riff and powerful singing.  Some smart organ during the chorus rounds the song out quite nicely.  Thee Claw (see link below) does a great job of researching the true story of the subject of this song, there's a terrific link at the bottom of their review for those interested in the occult history of 19th century Keighley and the rivalry between occultists.

"Infernal Machine" and "The Cloven Sea" continue to ramp up the Maiden/Priest Trad Metal.  The latter features an incredibly infectious chorus, "We fight! We strike! / We always survive! / Keen for the taste of war", made memorable by its rapid fire shouting style.  "On a Horse Called Vengeance" is another standout track that turns up the heavy and veers nearly towards early Metallica territory.  It's a great place to visit.

"Iron Shadows in the Moon" has one of those great early metal / doom riffs that get the blood pumping and it's also the original title of a skull-crushing good Conan story by Robert E. Howard called "Shadows in the Moonlight" (the original title is better, and is both literally and figuratively more Metal).  It's nice to meet a band that has similar literary tastes.  Can't go wrong with Weird Tales.  "Kult of Kutulu" is another great Weird Tales inspired song.  Lovingly nipped from Lovecraft's 'Call of Cthulhu', the chorus is the invocation of Cthulhu sang dexterously in the vowelless language of The Old Ones.  The title track features another Metallica like riff, and transmutates into a sea shanty during the chorus, then leads to a terrific doomy finish.  It's another Lovecraftian paean of doom.

It's so nice to hear shouted choruses.  And Arkham Witch choruses are often true choruses, not just the refrain but a choir of voices shouting 'in unison'.  "Gods of Storm and Thunder", "We're From Keighley", "Legions of the Deep", "The Cloven Sea" all feature these choruses.  There will be some sore throats the day after Arkham Witch rolls through town.

The best Metal is a complete sensory experience.  Not entirely cerebral, not entirely bestial, but cerebral and bestial at once.  It moves both the mind and body and Arkham Witch have fused some smart literary and musical influences to craft an album that is both thought-provoking and stupid heavy.  You learn something new then you headbang those brain cells away and come back for more.

Highlights include: "David Lund" and "The Cloven Sea"

Rating: 4/5

From: Keighley, West Yorkshire, England

Genre: BNWHM, Heavy Metal, Traditional Doom Metal

Reminds me of: Diamond Head, Ghost Tower, Hour of 13, Lord Vicar, Mercyful Fate, Natur, Witchfinder General

1). David Lund (8:42)
2). At the Mountains of Madness (7:13)
3). Iron Shadows in the Moon (4:00)
4). Infernal Machine (4:31)
5). The Cloven Sea (4:29)
6). On a Horse Called Vengeance (6:05)
7). Gods of Storm and Thunder (5:20)
8). Kult of Kutulu (3:21)
9). Legions of the Deep (6:03)
10). We're From Keighley (4:07)
Total Run Time: 57:28

Release Date: November 9, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Wiping bits of puke out of your beard with your jean jacket sleeve, then flicking those half-digested bits at your buddies / the chicks at the party.

Better Reviews
Thee Claw


Their first album was also posted on Bandcamp today. Thank Azathoth, my search is over.  You can find it here

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