Blasphemy Blog: Arckanum – Rapid Re-Issue Reviews

arckanum dude
By Ola Mazzuca

After releasing seven full-length albums, two demos and six EPs, the musical project of Johan “Shamaatae” Lahger, otherwise known as Arckanum, blonde roots beneath a black façade certainly show. Though his enterprise has not been acknowledged enough for a fantastic musical aura, the underlying influence on the rise of black metal in the last twenty years is evident in today’s most underground of black metal outfits.

When Hellbound editor in chief Sean Palmerston sent me three promotional re-issues from this Swedish progenitor, I thought of the many ways in which I could review the records as I found it a tad bit bland to write a separate review of each. Thus, I have decided to provide three extended blurbs on these dark definitive releases.

Hailz.

Fran Marder (1995)
arckanum fran

With a brooding, atmospheric intro entitled “Pans Lughn”, Fran Marder begins with much depth before the pummeling wrath of “Hvila Pa Tronan Min”. Johan’s piercing vocals are far from unpleasant as they are equally chaotic and proper, just like a missing puzzle piece. Most black metal bands of today try to mimic a low-fi sound and in doing so, they believe that vocals askew and “experimental” instrumentation do just the trick, but Arckanum proves that simple is best, most notably on “Svinna” and “Gava Fran Trulen” where heavy riffs and signature brisk tempos collaborate to produce old-school tracks that are pleasant in their own little way. With beautiful female guest vocals on “Bærghet” and the audible elements of doom on “Kolin Væruld”, this record embodies successful contrast to make for a great, yet never primitive classic.
(Debemur Morti Prod.)
Rating: 9.0

Kostogher (1997)
arckanum kostogher

Picture this: You’re running through a wooded area north of Stockholm. It’s dark. All is silent but howling wind, your hyperventilation and the demonic chants of a psychotic Viking. That would best describe the intro of this Arckanum record. The fear continues, for chaos ensues on “Skhoghens Minnen Vaekks” where you are thrust head first into an extremely dark yet pleasant abyss (thanks to violin additives). “Et Sorghetog” is pure old-school hell before a wicked conversion to wind, more violins and slow cymbal-snare beats. Besides my double mention of the string aspect, this album is FAST. No doom here! So, what if some pieces are rather melancholy? Kostogher is the OST for Blair Witch project – Arckanum style.
(Debemur Morti Prod.)
Rating: 8.0

Kampen (1998)
arckanum kampen
A reoccurring theme that arises in the music of Arckanum is the connection between man and nature. It is evident that Shamaatae is passionate about his northern surroundings and therefore feels obliged to include it in his clandestine music, setting the tone for each album. Ambience is such a strong characteristic to incorporate into black metal, allowing one to imagine and delve into an unknown atmosphere. Kampen is raw BM at its finestt with the thrashy “Kamps Tekn” and anarchist vibe of “Sangin Kaos”. With wicked riffage on “Trulfylket, Raþz Ok Os” and a special guest appearance by a Swedish owl, various small birds, wind and rivers Arckanum provides a different approach to old school black metal with both common and unconventional elements that outstretch plain old conceptual ideas.
(Debemur Morti Prod.)
8.5

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.