ARVAS – Black Satanic Mysticism
"Black Satanic Mysticism" is an album title that sounds very much like a 90’s Mayhem title. This can be both good and bad, depending on how the album actually sounds. It’s also important to keep the sound a little modern so that it does not become too clishé. So the question is: Do the guys in Arvas manage to do this?
The album starts off with a very ambient intro, that sets the stage in a good and creepy "horror movie" kind of way. After the short but intense intro, the song "Flames of Black" immediatly starts. And if there is one song on this album that is perfect to start with, it’s this one. A weird mixture of black and thrash metal, with some hard, shrieking vocals makes the song into a special kind of rollercoaster. It’s at the border line of super creative and "done a hundred times before", and to be completely honest, that is quite ok. Evolving does not always mean to reinvent the wheel, and it seems like Arvas have an ok understanding of this.
Next song is "Beholder of Demons". More in the lines of black metal at first, but the general feel set so far is still there. Some of the riffs are a bit repetetive in the song, and at some points they start feeling like a bad itch, but that is the point where Arvas change up the pacing or just throw in a special drum solo. The end of the song felt a little rushed.
"Redemption Black" is probably the weirdest title on the album, and sadly, not a very interesting song. Most of the song is very straight forward and there is not much too it. The vocalist could sometimes changed up the way he’s pacing, in order to be a bit more interesting than the standard screams that go constantly in the background. To the songs credit: It has a really musically epic moment around the three minute mark. More of that would have made the song a whole lot better!
The tune "Faith Of Negatron" takes a little step back to some of the more Mayhem-like stuff. The vocalist can remind a little of old Maniac, which in this case makes it alot cooler than some may think it sounds. The song is generally good.
Quite a calm start with some guitars that keep the suspension at a suthing level, but a little bit more energy as the song progresses, "Follow The Raven" is probably one of the stronger tracks on the album, since it keeps a low pacing, yet still a high energy level. The drumming is quite simple, but in this case, simple works more than good enough. The lead guitar parts are quite nice to listen to. The clean vocals could have been mixed a bit further to the front of the whole picture.
"Consumer Of Filth" is musically the song that reminds most about modern black metal. Fast and melodic riffs, that doesn’t necessarily bring too much to the table. Not a very interesting track if you like old school black metal, but if you are a fan of newer black metal bands, then this is probably a good track to check out.
The sound in "Path To The Fires Of Hell" is quite confusing, and it isn’t the easiest song to wrap your head around. Alot is going on and there are some weird beats along with the weird guitars and the "a little out of place" vocals. There are some very interesting changes of rythm twoards the end of the song. All in all a weirdly enjoyable tune.
"Starlight Eclipse" is without a doubt the best title of the whole album. Great name. The song gives the same impression, as it is one of the most fun tunes of the album as well. It is a very smart move to keep the whole album interesting enough, yet still keep a clear high-point twoards the end, and that is exactly what Arvas has done with Black Satanic Mysticism. The only complaint about this song is the somewhat unnecessary solo around 2:30. Its not bad, but the song would manage just as well without it. At around 4:00 and to the end, this song gets very special in an all around fun way.
When a title like "Summoning" shows up on an album, you automatically expect either something truly epic or something out of the "how to make a clishé" book. Arvas is somewhere in between, but the song leans a bit more twoards the clishé. Very black metal. And we have heard the formula alot of times before. It’s an ok track, but far from something special, and that goes double for this record, seeing as alot of the songs to this point have been alot stronger. A definite low-point.
To end this rollercoaster of fun and tears, there is "Call Of The Abyss". Much more power to this than there was with the last song so it’s good that the album sort of ends with this. The lead guitar starts a very interesting riff at around the one minute mark, and continues to shine through most of the tune. This would have been a very good way to end it all. After this, there comes a four minute long outro that the album would not really miss to be without. The outro itself isnt bat, but rather not needed.
Black Satanic Mysticism is a long album, but not a boring album. Rollercoaster is a good description, seeing as it has alot of parts that are both good and less good. Nothing is directly bad, but it suffers from not being the most interesting piece of music. The vocals can be a bit tiresome in the long run, but they hold up most of the time. If you like that the music is at alot of different levels then you should give it a listen.