Haze Mage – Chronicle

Much in the same way that Hip Hop is fine as long as you don’t mind blokes who can’t sing and lots of rhyming couplets, so Metal in all its forms is just as fine as long as you don’t mind the… ahem, special vocals. Continue reading

Arvas – Black Satanic Mysticism

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Subtlety isn’t the done thing when it comes to black metal. Take Arvas for example. Their promo pictures are utterly hilarious; contorted, gurning faces slathered in corpsepaint which have the unfortunate side effect of highlighting how certain members of the band could do with brushing their teeth. The title of their third full-length Black Satanic Mysticism (Aeternitas Tenebarum Musicae Fundamentum) was probably selected by throwing darts at pages torn from Watain liner notes, while the cover is haphazardly covered with occult symbols with little thought for aesthetic value. Needless to say, the music they peddle is unashamed second-wave worship which sticks so rigidly to convention you wonder why they even bothered, even if it ticks all the right boxes.

A satisfyingly raw production that in all likelihood was engineered through thoughtful design rather than accident reminds us that Arvas consider themselves to be the real deal. They’ve obviously spent a long time absorbing the classic releases of the likes of Gorgoroth, Mayhem and Darkthrone and over forty-seven minutes repeatedly remind you that those bands did it first and better. The repetitive riff that drives ‘Flames of Black’ should have remained in the rehearsal room while the out-and-out Bathory worship of ‘Follow the Raven’ is so derivative of Stockholm’s finest that Quorthorn deserves a writing credit. The same can be said for the blatant Carpathian Forest rip-off that is ‘Faith of Negatron.’

While their commitment to replicating older material ensures that a few engaging riffs are present on Black Satanic Mysticism, the utter lack of originality displayed by Arvas is troubling for a band that has been around in some form or another since 1993. Black metal is meant to be lawless, creative and dangerous, not safe, predictable and clichéd. Bands such as this may think they are keeping the old flame alive but in reality they are just tending a field of scorched earth.

4.0/10

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JAMES CONWAY