Arckanum- Fenris Kindir

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, July 6, 2013

I found Helvítismyrkr to be a solid if slightly underwhelming entry in Arckanum’s discography, but was still looking forward to this year’s Fenris Kindir to see what Shamaatae was able to add to the long running project. Now that I’ve spent a good amount of time with the release, I can safely say that it made a stronger impression on me than its predecessor. It’s the type of album that pulls the listener in with its atmosphere more often than specific riffs and there are moments that could have been expanded upon further, but as a whole Fenris Kindir still has plenty of truly harsh and chilling moments to offer.

Arckanum’s last few efforts did a decent job of balancing clarity and raw intensity through the way they were recorded, but this time around there is a noticeable return to a much noisier and raw approach that gives a very crunchy sound and prominent bass lines. This is probably the noisiest the group’s arrangements have been in quite some time, and along with it comes a bit of a punk flair to many of the riffs. Fenris Kindir goes for slightly more straightforward instrumentals that are always in your face, and there are experimental sections that implement fiddle, violins, and other string instruments mixed in with this harsher approach. But Shamaatae doesn’t stop there, even going for a straight up noise/ambient track on “Vargold” that is led by some downright terrifying vocals. What’s interesting is how each of the songs blur into the next, making this feel like a cohesive effort that functions more as a single body of work than in bits and pieces. As a result there are a few tracks that seem to not fully develop their ideas, instead choosing to transition over to the next one, but something about the overall level of intensity and abrasive yet catchy black metal riffs made this album stick out in my mind a bit more than Helvítismyrkr.

It seems appropriate that an album dedicated to the wolf Fenris from Norse mythology contains some of the most vicious and intense vocal performances I have heard from Arckanum in quite some time. The screams and growls are right at the front of the mix, making them consistently tear through your speakers and there is even more range than before. Shamaatae has the lower scream that I remember so well, but there are a number of other pitches including some demonic sounding low pitch growls that really put things over the top. Some guest singers were brought in, including some female vocalists that contribute some somber clean pitches, and this results in an interesting contrast between the harsher and mellower tones. The sheer intensity and sometimes intimidating mix of high and low screams/growls played a large role in why this material really stuck with me, and it’s easily the best vocal performance from this act I’ve heard to date.

Fenris Kindir doesn’t quite have as many standout individual tracks as some of the other black metal albums that have come out recently, but the way that everything flows together as a single body of work helps it to stand out as a worthy endeavor. The jump from the raw punk edged black metal to experimental noise and folk moments worked quite well, and even though some of the ideas seem to get cut off before they truly hit their peak Arckanum’s latest material clicked with me better than their last two efforts. I rather like the violent, abrasive approach Shamaatae has taken this time around, and would definitely not be opposed if he continues on this path.

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