After such a brilliant debut as "On Crom's Mountain", the challenge was anything except easy to face with the release of this "Legions of the Deep", but - holy shit- Simon and his faithful buddies did it ...! Just a little reminder in case you don't know anything yet about this mysterious gem from the UK, ARKHAM WITCH consists in one of the most talented singer of the last 25 years I've named Simon (also responsible for delightful occult works in The Lamp of Thoth), Aldo "Dodo" Doom (guit), John Demaine (bass) and Emily (drums, also partner of Simon in TLOT) and is a fine purveyor of obscure and Doom (more slightly) infused Traditional Heavy Metal.
A style that is still most often terribly straightforward and authentic on “Legions of the Deep”, with again a prominent late 70’s/early 80’s sound to it, but this time with a more consistent, clearer and sharper production, while the feeling of a kind of drunken party record that was too present on the first album almost completely disappeared.
Don't misunderstand me, it's not that the guys changed drastically their approach, nor became too serious and sober-minded; songs like "Kult of Kutulu", "Infernal Machine", "On a Horse Called Vengeance" are for example pure manifests of sweaty and saucy METAL dedicated to the glory of the headbanging 80’s but they’re thicker and punchier than “just” fun and stirring.
To cite influences could seem easy at times but what you hear in a second can be different very quickly, that doesn’t mean they are unpredictable though, this is just rich in simplicity ! In no particular order one can find some Wtichfinder General, Candlemass, Judas Priest, Manilla Road, Angel Witch, Cirith Ungol, Pagan Altar... I even heard some stuff that reminded me a bit Skyclad and early Running Wild saucy expression, some early german thrash in the (rare) most frantic moments but ARKHAM WITCH has succeeded to mix all those influences ultimately with a bluffing enhancement in harmonies, a bit like the Swedish OBRERO awesomely did on their “Mortui Vivos Doscent” last year but A.W. tends more on NWOBHM where Martin and his Swedish buddies are before all a Stoner/Doom band..
Harmonies, here’s something very important and delightful in infectious songs like “David Lund”, “The Cloven Sea”, “At the Mountains of Madness” or “Legions of the Deep” (which includes special appearance of the maltese doom legend Leo Stivala), where Simon’s vocals are the most valued with his famous brigand tone, naughty and so catchy at the same time; they fit perfectly with the music, magnifying gloriously the weirdness of such songs.
Riffs on those songs and particularly on the outstanding opener “David Lund” are really hooky, soulful and melodic; sometimes the blazing tone reminds of Pagan Altar, almost mystical and epic. This is the best side of A.W. personnality without any doubt, even if I also enjoy the rawer and blasting (sometimes thrashy) moments
This is not a promotional abusive formula, but believe me just this 1st song deserves the purchase of the album ! Of course I recognize willingly that I may have missed a few ones since the golden days of the 80’s, but this “David Lund” is the BEST HM song I’ve heard for ages… no less than the equivalent of a “Run to the Hills”, “The Reaper” or “The Crystal Ball” !!! The kind of song that is a real milestone in the Heavy Metal history and bands from the years 2000 that can lay claim to this can certainly be counted on the fingers of a kamikaze’s hand after a bloody attack !
Before concluding, I can not forget to mention the quality of the artwork perfectly fitting with the Lovecraftian horror-concept around which the band revolves.
Contagious, classic and twisted, this new album is an absolute must-have for old school METAL fans, it’ll be officially released by Metal on Metal rds tomorrow, so there’s no excuse to miss this masterpiece !!!