Tuesday 3 November 2015

Arkaik - 'Lucid Dawn' (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/10/2015
Label: Unique Leader Records

The band is to be commended for making such an engaging and impressive record. A tech-death hurricane of musicianship heroics.

‘Lucid Dawn’ CD//DD track listing:

1). Intro
2). From The Void
3). Digital Shroud
4). That Which Lies Hidden
5). Awaken The I
6). Fleshwalkers
7). Fusion Of Epochs
8). Lucid Dawn
9). Conjuring
10). Temple Aflame

Arkaik is:

Jared Christianson | Vocals
Ivan Munguia | Bass
Alex Hernandez – Best | Drums
Greg Paulson | Guitars
Miguel Esparza | Guitars (lead)

The Review:

Ah, tech death, where would my weekends be without thee?! After geeking out over the Death discography over the last week, I thought I would venture into the modern age. I'm glad I did, as album number four by these Californian garage and basement dwellers show that they have been doing their practising.

The intro sets the record up nicely before ‘From The Void’ lets you know what you could have achieved if you had stuck at playing every night instead of wasting your time with videogames, drinking and, you know, relationships and stuff. Joking and humour aside, this level of proficiency would have been unthinkable in the dark days at the start of the genre- it is just incredible how bands like Arkaik and Eschaton have taken the ball and run with it. “Seven Churches” this is not. It is brutally precise, with that bouncy pro-toolsy production that you really need with this type of stuff (you won't hear much of what is going on otherwise). In fact, the band creates a kind of ‘Digital Shroud’, appropriately enough, that allows them to really flex their muscles with their beastly playing.

I love this type of stuff, and when the bass break comes around the three minute mark... it's just fantastic. Naturally, the drums are hyper fast and hyper accurate, the guitars shred with convincing abandon and the vocals shred vocal chords just as effectively. Of course, it will be very difficult to explain to the layperson what drives musicians to do this: to get this competent and be able to record like this (much less play live convincingly) takes serious dedication and I take my hat off to every musician in this band for it. These guys really do this for the love. It sure as shit isn't the money or any other tangible reward, of which there is very little. It is niche, even within a niche genre, even within a niche larger genre. Tracks which ‘That Which Lies Hidden’ features as many twists and turns as you could hope for, complete with squeals and super cool soloing.

The rock solid blasting that heralds in ‘Awaken the I’ (with semi-quaver bass drums underneath) is exactly the kind of move that the band can pull off effortlessly and exactly the kind of thing that most people have no idea how much practice it takes to do (every night, hours a night, for some years and then you have it!). Any fool can learn some “beats” and “play drums, like, er, pretty well” but not many can do this stuff accurately with power and control. I raise my Janus twin kick long board pedals in salute, sir. Take a bow Alex Hernandez-Bent (whose CV reads very impressively indeed) you have delivered a death metal master class.

‘Fleshwalkers ‘takes us over the half way mark in some dramatic style and plenty of substance. Interesting quasi classical breaks too- again, this would have been unthinkably ambitious even 15 years ago. ‘Fusion of Epochs’ recalls Schuldiner in its ascending/descending opening but becomes a more brutal affair with stop start riffs and labyrinthine time changes. The title track ramps up the riff quotient considerably- ultra tech, ultra impressive in its musicality. ‘Conjuring’ again features a classical motif to start and then brings the ascent/descent again before dropping into a rather atmospheric and synth laden breakdown type section. Sense of foreboding duly created, the band then proceed to pummel your ears with razor sharp changes.

Temple Aflame finishes this deathly delight of an album in precise style.. And includes an extended outro, complete with voice samples and what have you. Your interest in this type of stuff may well be dictated by your interest in more straight ahead death metal and/or your appreciation of any one of the instruments involved (of course, there will always be some nobhead saying “well anyone could do that if they practised enough...” which is kind of the point; “anyone” doesn't and that is why they can't). If there was any justice in the world, then those at the top of their chosen craft would receive commensurate rewards. For the likes of Arkaik, though, praise from fools such as me will have to be a substitute. Believe me, this is very impressive stuff and exactly what I wanted to listen to this fine Sunday afternoon. The band is to be commended for making such an engaging and impressive record. A tech-death hurricane of musicianship heroics.

‘Lucid Dawn’ is available here

FFO: Deeds of Flesh, Inanimate Existence, Decrepit Birth, Fallujah

Band info: facebook