Coming from the bleak coastal city of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Artach brings forth a wave of black metal inspired by the cold, damp terrain they call home. Their new album ‘Sworn to Avenge’ is due out June 25th 2021 via Depressive Illusions Records.
The music on ‘Sworn to Avenge’ is a frigid mixture of topics about nature and how it meets and interacts with the darkness of humankind. The desolation of the world, the planet, and the repeated failure of society to evolve to a place where we are a part of nature and not brutish subjugators of everything in our path… these are all themes described throughout many songs. The music is angry, savage, unhinged, but contains melody and some twists and turns to surprise the listener. Varied song tempos mixing blasting with thrashy, punky, doomy elements keep the sounds interesting and not monotone. Song structures often vary and we never limit a song to a certain length. We indulge and have them be as long, or as short as we think feels right.
A primeval style of black metal with some thrash and heavy metal touches, Artach’s Sworn to Avenge is a bleak slice of suffering. Raw, but not in an unlistenable way. Dark, but not forced. Atmospheric, but without melodrama. It’s got a ton of barbarism, feels ice cold and that it lasts over an hour is all the harsher. One track, Endless Tundra, is over 21 minutes!
Hell has well and truly frozen over.
There’s no denying you need to have a taste of what black metal has to offer and even then Artach are quite relentless. Sworn to Avenge is a mind-assaulting record. It hits hard early on and rarely lets up. When it does, it’s often to build some atmosphere until the next slice of harshness. Which is the predominate theme around this album, most notable in the unique style of vocals that often sound like someone vomiting up their guts.
You’ll hear the influences of classic black metal bands like Venom, early-Bathory as well as elements of the second wave; Immortal, Darkthrone etc. Ugly and uninviting stuff but very satisfying if you enjoy the gloomier side of metal. The quality production makes it even more listenable though. The old-school vibes are certainly not reflected in the superiority of the sound.
It’s a mammoth listen and does take its toll, but the array of ideas that Artach showcase does keep things interesting. An hour slips by, the cold has sunk deep into the bones and you’ll be left wondering if you’ll ever be warm again.
Artach – Sworn to Avenge Full Track Listing:
1. Tuiteam an Duine
2. Ice Throne
4. Endless Tundra
5. Into the Frozen Woodlands
6. She Gathers Leaves
7. Mistress of Black Thorns
8. Winter’s End
Artach - Sworn To Avenge (Depressive Illusions Records)
The Final Score - 7/10