Archarus – Render unto Archarus (Self-Released)

Friday, 29th January 2016
Rating: 8/10

First look at the red haired maiden and dragon lurking in the water laden distance for Archarus’ cover and many metal heads would prepare themselves for the second coming of Dio musically. Given that this Indiana quartet’s name relates to a celestial sea dragon, expectations are high that this full-length Render unto Archarus will possess reasonably heavy substance – if not a little fantasy, mystery, or sorcery. Together since 2014, it’s nice to hear a group of musicians in America willing to stick to more conventional style of traditional doom metal devoid of stoner elements that flood the underground marketplace.

A love of Black Sabbath is obvious in terms of the main riff hooks and jazz-swing like drum tempos right out of the gate for “Sea Wolf” and “The Last of the Giants”, but guitarists Drew Smith and Matt Hannon also maintain a sharp melodic bite that reaches into Iron Maiden’s early Di’Anno period and Orange Goblin, especially on the relatively up-tempo 7:20 “Fire Blade”. A lot of the chord construction has this circular repetition that allows bassist Tristan Thompson and drum cohort John Mark Olson to hammer home the groove while also adding a little bit of free-flow jam enhancement to their style. Check out the low humming “Lizardfish” where all four musicians swim in and out to make you feel the gurgles, bubbles, and seaweed churning against the atmosphere they create.

Matt Hannon doubles on vocals, and his melodies are more traditional in nature than anything typically doom-associated, very much from a NWOBHM perspective on another highlight “Tower of the Wizard” where the music thrusts and volleys against his delivery especially during the verses. Even the production has the right clarity/rawness quotient to convince listeners that Archarus are the real deal – and the narrative spooky touches to the “Children of the Grave”-oriented “San Sabado” keep my ears coming back for more.

Render unto Archarus serves up 45 minutes of swinging classic doom with traditional flourishes, and should give Archarus a decent launching pad to a worldwide underground following.

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