From Arcane Fires
posted on 2/2009 By:
I found Anael's first two full-lengths to be rather enjoyable forays into early Samael-styled black metal. And to be perfectly honest, I have very little issue with those who rely on an already established sound from another band as a large influence on their own, notably when said influential band no longer plays that particular style (as is the case for the glow-stick-twirling thump of much of today's Samael). Anyway, I count myself a fan of the first two Anael records, and that's essentially the reason I signed up for record number three when it eventually hit the ol' doorstep at MR.
From Arcane Fires finds the Deutscher's headed even further down their own distinctive branch of occult black metal, leaving the Blood Ceremony accoutremant's mostly for the corners this time around. Comparatively speaking, the band's earlier material fired lightening bolts when balanced against the molasses drenched stretches presented here. The stride is deliberately drowsy, and four of seven tunes clock in at 10-minutes or more, so those without a patient ear should probably leave this well-enough alone. The overall mood is undoubtedly bleak, and the record's musty production serves well by adding a rather fitting "sallow hue" to the overall evil climate cooked up here. Basically, on paper From Arcane Fires seems to have its black-cloaked ducks in a row, especially considering I'm a fan of metal that challenges to be slow, but there's one concern that sours the batch a bit and leaves me quite certain their previous works will win out when hankerin's for the band occur in the future.
The most glaring issue here is the fact the songs are simply too long. More accurately, they're too long considering how straightforward and modest the musical recipe is. From Arcane Fires would benefit greatly from an added guitarist contributing measures of snaky, tendriled leads, or perhaps some added instrumental variation to help spice up many of the more expansive passages. Just before the 7-minute mark of "Song of the Moth" we hear the tiniest evidence of what sounds like a squeezebox buried in the background, and it actually seems to fit wonderfully. This is exactly the sort of creativity that should be explored more in depth for future endeavors if they decide to continue down a similar path.
The drumming is also in desperate need of a shot of complexity. As it stands, most of their time is spent limping along almost drunkenly, which is quite surprising considering how simple the formula seems to be. The issue is sadly magnified through headphone use because of the mix's tendency to give them center stage as well, so fans of an elaborate rhythmic delivery should likely look elsewhere.
In the end I'd say the record's lack of intricacy outweighs the inviting tenebrous mood laid down by From Arcane Fires. While it's certainly not something I'd call bad, I just can't see myself using it for much more than a background nefarious mood enhancer in the future.
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