You would be forgiven if you got the wrong idea about the music of Artach based on their location and some of the ideas that inspire their approach to black metal. This duo hail from St. John’s, Newfoundland, a place they describe as “the coldest, windiest, snowiest, foggiest, provincial capital city in Canada”, a location that would “give many Norwegian cities a challenge for gloomiest weather”.
Moreover, many of their songs are about nature, and many of those involve winter. Their 2020 debut album was entitled Chronicles of a Black Winter, and their forthcoming sophomore full-length, Sworn To Avenge, includes such song titles as “Ice Throne”, “Endless Tundra” (an epic 20-minute exploration about the doomed Franklin expedition of 1846), and “Into the Frozen Woodlands”.
But if you’re expecting naught by icy grimness, think again. As you’ll discover from the song we’re premiering today through a lyric video, Artach’s music is equally capable of discharging full-throttle fieriness, maniacal fervor, and a feeling of visceral lust.
This particular song is itself inspired by the seasons — in this case, not the blood-freezing gloom of winter, but the inflamed colors of autumn. The band embrace those fall colors in mystical and pagan ways, offering an ode to the queen of Samhain (“a beauty in death so serene”) whose altar is the forest — she who spreads her leaves “and they turn aflame”.
The song is a thrill-ride, but also reveals elements of gothic witchiness. The raw vocals are caught up in a paroxysm of fierce, crazed adoration, venting cold-blooded roars as well as braying, throat-stripping howls and cut-throat screams. The full-throttle drumming is tumultuous, a changing array that hammers, gallops, rocks, thunders, and blasts. Urgently rising chords provide a recurring theme, surrounded by flame-throwing riffs that dart, pulsate, and spasm, drawing on elements of thrash and classic heavy metal as well as black metal. Ecstatically swirling leads further add to the wildness of the song.
A mood of mystery does surface in the track’s brief intro, and that mood surfaces again in the song’s back half, leading into a necromantic guitar solo that takes flight in scintillating fashion.
Well, we’re still many months away from the autumn equinox and Samhain, but now you know one more song that would make a fine soundtrack for those days.
Sworn To Avenge is a multi-faceted 65-minute opus. It was mastered by Fredrik Folkare (Necrophobic, Heartwind, Unleashed, Unanimated, etc.) at Chrome Studios, and features artwork by Jerome Comentale. The album will be released on June 25th and will be available digitally from Artach along with CD and cassette via Depressive Illusions Records.
We’ll now share these words from the band about the album:
“The music on Sworn To Avenge is a frigid mixture of topics about nature and how it meets and interacts with the darkness of humankind. The desolation of the world, the planet, and the repeated failure of society to evolve to a place where we are a part of nature and not brutish subjugators of everything in our path… these are all themes described throughout many songs.
“The music is angry, savage, unhinged, but contains melody and some twists and turns to surprise the listener. Varied song tempos mixing blasting with thrashy, punky, doomy elements keep the sounds interesting and not monotone. Song structures often vary and we never limit a song to a certain length. We indulge and have them be as long, or as short as we think feels right.”
Below you’ll find pre-order links, as well as a stream of another album track, “Into the Frozen Woodlands“.