Tuesday 13 December 2022

Arkheth - Clarity Came With A Cool Summer's Breeze

Labels: I, Voidhanger Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 30 See 2022


1. In The Cradle Of The Crescent Moon

2. Kundalini

3. Psychonautica

4. Neptune Beaches

5. Patience In The Garden Of Fire

6. Where The Ocean Meets The Sky

I've found myself in a rare spot, where I can pick a random release to talk about. This particular release forms part of the ever growing I, Voidhanger Records stable, which is a label that's known for it's love of progressive and avant-garde metal, with bands who constantly up the cover-art level. One such band is Australia's Arkheth. I previously wrote about their 2018 album 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew. I really enjoyed that album and knowing that they've now found a suitable home for their latest work, I'm excited to hear how they've progressed over the past four years and if that cover is anything to go by, there's gonna be psychedelia aplenty.

I’ve said before that it’s always great to revisit bands that I’ve reviewed before and Arkheth left a really good impression with their previous album. Fast-forward to now and Clarity Came With A Cool Summer’s Breeze promises to be as good, if not better. Album opener ‘In The Cradle Of The Crescent Moon’ is an instrumental that hides Arkheth’s extreme influences behind acoustic guitar, saxophone, clarinet and birdsong. It’s an auspicious start.

‘Kundalini’ follows quickly on with something that’s a little more extreme, but only because it contains guitar riffs. They’re joined by both spoken/whispered and cleanly sung vocals, keyboard tones that sound like a Moog and almost shoegaze-like textures. There’s a lot going on and the creativity levels are very high indeed. Even the electronic flourishes during the song’s mid-section don’t sound out of place. Black metal makes more of an appearance later on, along with some Shining-like black jazz.

There seems to be a growing trend (if you can even call it that!) of bands becoming less extreme, heaviness-wise and Arkheth make their point clearly on ‘Psychoanutica’ (not that they’re following any trends). Part black metal, part cheesy 80’s game show music and part bizarrely beautiful sound collage. If this band ever makes it onto Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, I’ll be bloody happy!

The reason I mentioned Jools Holland is because the brass section of ‘Neptune Beaches’ could easily have come from his rhythm and blues orchestra. It’s that good and underlines just how impressive this album is. I’ve honestly never heard anything like this in the twelve years I’ve been writing about music. Everything flows so well and before you know it you’re listening to the 70’s inspired penultimate song ‘Patience In The Garden Of Fire’. More like a folk, psych, Beatles-esque pop song than anything remotely close to metal, yet it works so well in the context of Arkheth’s music. 

‘Where The Ocean Meets The Sky’ epitomises the musical quality of this album best and it’s the final song of a record that’s over too quickly, It’s very atmospheric and it builds in a gentle way, making full use of every element at Arkheth’s disposal. Led by the band’s sole permanent member Tyrone Kostitch, with additional and no-less significant contributions from Glen Wholohan (alto sax, tenor sax and bass clarinet), Tarquin Halls-Corbett (bass, backing and additional lead vocals, along with added acoustic and electric guitar on track 6), Prophanant (additional lead guitar on track 3) and Hunter McDonald Gerrand Rogers (string orchestration on track 5), it’s unlikely that you’ll find a collective as inspiring as this.

All that’s left now is for you to go on your own journey of musical exploration, starting with this record. It fully justifies why Arkheth should be held in much higher regard and why I, Voidhanger Records should be revered amongst lovers of challenging, stimulating music devoid of traditional labels. Fantastic!

You can stream and purchase Clarity Came With A Cool Summer's Breeze on all formats below:-

Arkheth - https://www.facebook.com/arkheth

I, Voidhanger Records - https://www.facebook.com/i.voidhanger.records

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