After three full-length albums the one-man atmospheric black metal band Arx Atrata from Nottingham, UK, joined forces with Bleakwinter Shrine for a split release named The Warrior Cycle that was revealed in April of this year. Unlike Arx Atrata‘s previous works, this was an instrumental record, but nevertheless it was one that told a story. Arx Atrata‘s alter ego Ben Sizer explains it:
“The Warrior Cycle was unusual in that although it was an instrumental release it was built around a strong narrative theme, the idea coming from Bleakwinter Shrine as a way to unify our work on the split record. With no lyrics to explain it, we decided to have the storyline included in the liner notes to give listeners some additional context and help them paint the imagery in their minds while listening to the record. But there was a realization that we could go further and show the storyline visually, setting the music to a short video that really captures the essence of the theme and provides an interpretation of the events within”.
It’s that video that we’re helping to premiere today, and it really is extraordinary. The narrative theme that inspired the music is tragic, and although the events are set in an ancient time, it resonates all too powerfully in our current age. The song in the video, “Succession“, plays upon the heartstrings with mastery, and the beautifully rendered video makes the impact of the music even more heartbreaking and deeply memorable. We’re truly honored to share it.
We’ll turn back to Ben Sizer for background info concerning the video:
“As Arx Atrata‘s first live action music video there was a desire to do this properly with real actors and direction, so Ritual Video were drafted in for this due to their prior experience at setting metal music to short films. The video was shot on location in south Wales with the Welsh landscape providing a suitably epic backdrop to the story. The video for ‘Succession’ represents the end of the tale where the hero, having previously lost his family at the hands of his enemy, is finally able to seek out his foe and have his long-desired retribution — but at the price of realising that he has merely perpetuated the cycle of violence. Is revenge ever worth it?”
The layered, ringing tones and murmuring bass at the outset of “Succession” set the musical hook in gripping fashion. The mood of the melody is already melancholy, but as the drum moves from a popping beat to a rumble the sound becomes both more searing and more panoramic. The song seems to wail in grief in the midst of such vast musical vistas. The reverberating brilliance of the guitar and the growl of the bass provide a piercing interlude, after which a sense of grim tension builds in the heavy tremolo’d chords and hammering drums — and overflows in a surge of violence.
When the maelstrom subsides and the music sweeps, wails, glitters, and shimmers again, the forlorn feeling of heartbreak becomes just as intense in its own way as the storm that precedes it. And, to use an overworked word, there is an undeniably “epic” quality to “Succession”, one that’s in keeping with the dreadful cycle of violence and revenge that seems to be an ageless and everlasting feature of the human condition.
As forecast above, the video makes all these sensations even more emotionally overpowering. All involved in the making of it deserve a deep bow.
The entire split, which includes not only tracks by Arx Atrata and Bleakwinter Shrine but also Arx Atrata’s ambient other self, Arx Silvestris, is well worth your time — and we’ve included a stream of it below, along with pertinent links.
ARX ATRATA / BLEAKWINTER SHRINE SPLIT: