Arkaik – Nemethia (Unique Leader)Wednesday, 20th September 2017
Of the tech-death infused Unique Leader horde, Arkaik often stand out in their ability to take brutal compositions and bring in intricate playing that doesn’t take away from the menacing and blunt force trauma of the music at hand. 2015’s Lucid Dawn, the band’s fourth album, was the clear pinnacle of their approach to date and really made some stand up and take notice. Nemethia stands on shoulder and shoulder with the high bar the band has set for themselves.
Continuing the conceptual nature of preceding material, Nemethia is the latest album to use the protagonist Cyrix (which started with Metamorphignition). The band pulls a rich concept to the table, and the consistency between albums helps it flow more naturally. There’s much that Arkaik have done well that they don’t touch (and have no reason to). Plenty of brutal and frenetic riffing (which opens with “Occultivation”) sets the stage for some no-frills carnage. Of course, this is effectively blended with the band’s high level of proficiency in composition. It’s never balls-to-the-wall tech that makes one’s eyes cross, but it’s textured and layered into the music in a way that you have the compulsion to return to it and further investigate some of what lies below the surface. Some of these things include some fantastic bass work throughout, some chugging riffs that sync well with dizzying leads, and guest drummer Gabe Seeber’s (The Kennedy Veil) varied approach behind the kit. But it’s not simply a retread either, with Arkaik really pushing the more conceptual bounds musically. It seems more attention has been paid to mood (the synths also come into play here), and the few breathers are a treat. “Order of Hierogon” is a 9-minute cut that nicely blends some frantic brutality with atmospheric melodies as it moves along. Closer “Nexion Stargate” also comes up a winner with space-y leads and melodies that pull the listener in just as easily as the more aggressive moments.
Nemethia takes the Arkaik template and further enhances it with more attention to dynamics and added nuance. There’s complex layers to be found for those who would like to investigate beyond the crushing death metal sound. A well-rounded and enjoyable release that wisely avoids dipping too far into the tech-death vibe that renders many a band sterile.