You’ve got to admire Shamaatae. For a one man band, Arckanum has been producing consistently good material for more than 20 years now, and that’s some serious dedication to a musical project. With 2009’s fantastic ‘ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ’ still resonating behind his 2011 release ‘Helvítismyrkr’; it’s understandable for there to be a great deal of expectation for his next release ‘Fenris Kindir‘. Put simply, it doesn’t disappoint. Across all eleven tracks, Arckanum presents a harsh and dark landscape still inspired with that classic black metal sense of adventure that has worked so well in Arckanum’s previous releases. There’s still his signature style of riffs, drums and fantastic vocals all bundled together but presented in a more expansive release than ever before. The end result is an atmospheric, unique and finely tuned album that once more exhibits Arckanum’s best features.
Although atmosphere hasn’t necessarily been a thing that’s been focused on in Arckanum’s previous releases, having simply been formed as a result of the songs’ full on and hard hitting nature; Shamaatae has made this a primary focus on Fenris Kindir to create some seriously dark moments. The opening track ‘Fenris Kindir Grua’ echoing intimidating chords under the howling sound of a storm before Arckanum gets to business in ‘Tungls Tjugari’ with an intense galloping tempo before his signature vocals make their appearance. This atmospheric aspect features prominently in songs such as ‘Dolgrinn’ & ‘Vargold’, however occasionally breaking off into mysterious sections of songs, melodic features of the instruments and his voice often accompanying them. Hell, even a violin appears during the fantastic instrumental song ‘Hamrami’. This kind of expansion is wonderful to hear, giving us both classic Arckanum and new attributes that he has worked on incorporating into Fenris Kindir.
An interesting thing to note is the obvious death metal influences on this album, songs still feel like Arckanum’s style of black metal (all riffs and no shit); but song structure appears to take a more classic Swedish death metal approach at times. Shamaatae has used more inspired vocal techniques in this respect, death growls making appearances on songs such as ‘Uskepna’ & ‘Fenris Gangr’. Songs are more flexible in their nature; ‘Hatarnir’ starting up with a ridiculously catchy bass riff that results in a total headbanger of an intro whilst ‘Angrboda’ slows down its tempo completely half way from a fierce galloping pace for some mystical chords and vocals to reverberate the finale of the song. On a few occasions, you can lose the sense of direction in the intense level of reverb and production effects on Shamaatae’s voice; leaving some parts of songs sounding somewhat confused before a switch in riffs occurs. But, all in all, this works well; keeping things nice and fresh – enabling Fenris Kindir to be stuck in your head for another few months.
Listening to Fenris Kindir, you won’t envision anything less than some serious darkness creeping across the land Evil Dead style. It’s this admirable level of effort that Arckanum continue to be celebrated for, and whilst this album doesn’t hit every mark it sets for itself; it rises far beyond the expectations of most modern metal releases. A strong contender for Album Of The Year.
1. Fenris Kindir Grua
2. Tungls Tjugari
6. Fenris Gangr
11. Solbols Sigr