Arche – Transitions (Transcending Obscurity Records)Monday, 19th December 2022
When it comes to subsets of doom metal, there’s probably nothing more emotionally touching (or crushing) than atmospheric, funeral-oriented doom. The contrasts between darkness searching for light, or exquisite melodies seeping through the slow, plodding riffs, deserve that deep dive as a listener, no matter how long it takes to arrive at the aural payoff. Finnish duo Arche live for this genre, active since 2014 and issuing their debut EP Undercurrents a year later. Seven years later we arrive at Transitions, a debut album containing only three tracks yet appeases those ardent followers of this movement, especially if names like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Skepticism are important parts of your record collection.
Key factors in retaining full engagement start with the best musical hooks that build out into spacious layers – Eppa Kuismin front and center in this regard through his electric/acoustic guitar play, beyond the keyboard/bass supplementation. Drummer Ville Raittila rarely gets above a healthy athlete’s resting pulse rate in his tempos, yet the cymbal/snare hits and occasional fills signal fear in the air – while providing necessary contrasting clean background vocals to Eppa’s normal measured death growls. With two of the main tracks eclipsing 14 minutes plus, you better buckle up for the emotional journey that “Reverential Silence” takes you from the start. Tribal tom hits next to an alluring rhythm guitar foundation, the supporting, calm bends wash over the proceedings like a tide approaching shore – the vocals not kicking in until the 3:20 mark, sparse instrumental sections hit two-thirds of the way through before the next monumental doom riff rings out. Sandwiched between the two main compositions is the shorter six-minute and change title cut – an acoustic driven affair that contains a calmer, spoken word aspect, properly framing Arche’s reflective nature in a semi-uplifting light. Often these records can go on for well over an hour – such is the nature of funeral/atmospheric doom, but Transitions has more of a vinyl friendly timeframe, providing that slow burn to satisfaction in under thirty-eight minutes.
Drenched in despair, Arche adheres to a style with substance that rewards those who love this tight knit sub-category of doom. May we not have to wait another seven years for the follow up.