Arcane Grail - Arya Marga

Arcane Grail is a gothic-sympho-black-death-doom metal band from Moscow, Russia. Now, seeing the definition of the music at their site will certainly make you quite suspicious and there's a reason for being concerned. Arya Marga is their second album already and to be honest, I'm really scared by what could their debut album sound like. Because this album sounds awful.

Don't get me wrong, the band itself is quite OK if early Cradle of Filth with a strong gothic-metal flavor is your cup of tea. The music is exactly what you could expect from a band with a definition as in the first passage. It has both the dynamics of death-black blastbeats and even occasional breakdowns enhanced by keyboards and violin to create the sympho-gothic-doom atmosphere. It doesn't go beyond what you would expect from this style of music, using the same scales and passages that have been used hundreds of times before. But they are really good at that.

What first hit my ear like a nasty punch was the production of the record. Come on, it's a 2009 release and having a sound as lame as this doesn't do the band any favor. The guitars sound like if it was a garage-made demo of a punk band from Tambov rather than a well-respected (as they claim themselves) band from the capital of Russia, where there's a well-developed metal scene and great production possibilities. The other instruments are a tad better and in general you get used to the sound pretty quickly if not paying too much attention to the details. But when the vocals kick in the effect is like a nuke to your inner ear that will make you do anything to stop the torture.

Again, this needs a little explanation. The vocals are not bad if taken separately from the music. There are soprano female vocals and male metal screams and growls in Arcane Grail. And from what I've learned at their official site and Myspace page, the vocalists are the actual creators of the band, which you can clearly hear on this record. Their voices are so in front of the mix that you sometimes get the impression that they don't give a damn about the music that's being played behind them. The vocals even sound different from the rest of the music like if it was a karaoke battle with a little tape recorder playing all the instrumental parts and two voices trying to scream it over. Moreover, sometimes the clean female vocals don't hit the right pitch with keyboards and violin, creating a devastating dissonant effect that sounds awful for the music of this type.

As a conclusion I would like to say that Arcane Grail's Arya Marga could have beene a really good album by the genre's standards if the band's ambitions would meet the final production quality. But what we have as a result is a playground for two vocalists that dominate the mix and don't allow the listener to get into the atmosphere of the music, focusing the attention on their parts that are just all over the place. That's why it is hard for me to suggest this album even to those who are generally into this type of music.

1. Arcane Grail
2. Of Snake And Raven
3. Autumn Wed Us, Sinned And Lone
4. Renaissant The Reverie
5. Sorrow Of Forgotten Pride
6. Imprisoned In The Greatest War
7. Die Sonnehymne
8. Iniquitous Yoke
9. Svyatoy Graal

Self released
Reviewer: twansibon
Oct 18, 2010
Next review: Psy:Code - Delusion

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