by MythofRock

The Arcane Order from Denmark, formed back in 2005 by guitarist and composer Flemming C. Lund, are an interesting case of melodic death metal. They always had an approach receptive to modern elements, deviating from the traditional Scandinavian “school-of-thought”. Since their thrashy debut, “The Machinery of Oblivion”, the discreet use of synths as a background motive and the occasional hardcore mindset gave their ideas a rather dreamy, and (concurrently) mechanical / industrialized essence, where the high precision in execution stands out easily. Indeed, The Arcane Order, whether someone likes their music or not, were always skillful players, as the core element demands.

I’d say that the Danes are mainly influenced by bands like Soilwork and Strapping Young Lad. Although they used their sources of inspiration correctly, they didn’t develop a distinctive character that would enable them to sound differently than most bands (this is rather difficult, since we’ve heard almost everything from this genre). Moreover, their scarce discographic activity (four albums in almost two decades) didn’t help them to establish their name more robustly. Hence, The Arcane Order’s recognition was always restricted within their homeland’s borders.

This year, the band return with their fourth album, “Distortions from Cosmogony”, eight years after “Cult of None” and some reasonable delays due to the pandemic and line-up changes (now they’re a quintet, with three new members). Although the foundations remain the same, the Danes’ new effort differs from its much darker, heavier, and mid-paced (mainly) predecessor. It seems that they try to manifest all the energy they accumulated during a lengthy period away from the studio, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8Cfzk88unYreleasing an aggressive album, focused on up-tempo patterns, yet without sacrificing their technicality.

Songwriting combines ferocious death metal with occasional blackening (you’ll hear some tremolo riffs here and there), technically inclined parts, catchy melodicism, moments of respite, and hints of epic, achieving a skillful balance, while synths, like in previous releases, add a sense of vastness without alienating the band’s ideas. The Danes have a coldness in their sound, and can be equally brutal, melodic, and atmospheric; this versatility keeps you connected with the band, despite the long duration of the album (slightly less than an hour).  

The new singer, Kim Song Sternkopf (Møl), unlocks new potential for Lund’s compositions, being adept at changing styles easily and often. His fiery performance ranges from deep growls to black metal shrieks, adding diversity to songs that would sound more ordinary if they were performed by another singer. His changes within the same song, according to the idiosyncrasy of riffing, surely capture the listener’s attention!  

The Arcane Order’s aggression stands out in more straightforward songs like the ominous and severe “Cry of Olympus” and the much heavier and hellish “Children of Erebus”; but even in these moments of brutality, Lund’s solos intervene to add a much-needed tone of melodicism. Moreover, the rather blackened “character” of the sinister “The First Deceiver” is worth mentioning as well. On the other hand, a more integrated composing approach that describes thoroughly what the band do, emerges in “A Blinding Trust in Chosen Kings” and “Wings of Duality”. The former features the attitude of the previously mentioned tracks, along with technical patterns, intricate lead riffs and dreamy synths. As for the latter, the faintly post melody makes a suitable and successful contrast with the death storm that follows; the atmospheric intermission towards the end and the fiery conclusion, ending the album, determine once and for all Arcane Order’s essence after years of absence.

The Danes offer an album that, initially, may not seem noteworthy; even I found it rather dull at first. However, its virtues are revealed gradually if you’re patient. Sooner or later, you’ll find out Arcane Order’s thorough work in combining things that make each song different. Of course, you’ll “recognize” other bands in their ideas (to tell the truth, sometimes I had the impression that I was hearing a less symphonic Septicflesh…); but its robust and elaborate structure, despite obvious resemblances, is able to carry the day.

♦ 7,5/10

Alex Nikolaidis





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