Arvas – Black Satanic Mysticism

For some reason over here I was just in the mood for some classic black metal.  There was a longing deep inside for some atmospherically fragile chords, echoing vocals, Satanic imagery, and all of that.  Thankfully while going through the recent glut of promo submissions, there was this.  The cover gave it all away, this is that which you seek my son, spoken by some God-like figure or somethingrather.  But the problem with this inner desire is that most of what considers itself classical black metal these days is of the trite variety.  Been there done that, done there been that, done been heard that, heard that been done, heard done that been, and any other word combination you fancy.  To retain the classic is not something to take lightly, dip too far and you'll be more outdated than, ugh, swing.  Remember that "comeback"?  Well there are still bands like that today, and still bands like that in black metal.  Sadly they're more pronounced because there's always someone who will fight for its existence from their basement with all the fervency of cerberus.  But sadly for those of us paying attention, sometimes that old sound is just, well, old.

  

But then there's this.  Scope that cover, it has nothing to hide.  Blackness upon which has been placed a blasphemed picture of Christ, or at least suggests it, in the form of Satan, whose head's fashioned from the pentagram.  Add dripping blood/root logo and you're ready to roll.  What is this in my hands?  Black metal, it can be nothing else.  Now, the real trick would be for Arvas to take that image and keep the music the same, what you expect, and what you want, without sounding tiresome.  If anyone could do it, these guys could.  Arvas was actually first called Örth as far back as 1993 when they officially began in Norway (yes that Norway), but after the suicide (yes that suicide) of one of the members the current incarnation was fully conceived by 2001.  After some demo work they got things officially going by 2009.  In spite of a few line-up changes since that time it's clear they know black metal, in fact they were around far back before it became the "hailzboyz" kvlt nonsense it is today.  Did they do it, is Black Satanic Mysticism the dream we so sought?

 

Yes, generally so.  This album is filled with decades of blackness, and has no qualms with displaying itself as you expect it to be, simply because Arvas has the background.  This is black metal in the sense of qua, we're going full Latin here because that's what it deserves.  It deserves philosophical discussion of its merits of the classical.  After an expected, but enjoyable intro it thus begins.  As you might expect from the above, Black Satanic Mysticism is classic black metal for the modern day.  The chording is frozen and rusty, with forceful energy, the drums pounding like so many goat hooves, the vocals echoing in a cavernous cathedral of sacrilege.  There's some variation in style such as operatic, quasi-choral singing, but it largely should be what you'd expect.  And in classical black metal style, Arvas makes sure the majority of the riffs stick like a knife into the body of a perceived deceiver of the true path, but without the teenage, misdirected angst.  See if you catch that reference.  As such, this album is exactly what we were looking for this past week, and if you're searching for just what you're looking for, this is just what you're looking for, minus the redundancy.  Sometimes it's fine to just hear things as you've always heard them, it can still be done, and here it's been done again.  Very few moments of drag, it's largely cut and slice until flayed the whole way through.

 

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Written by Stanley Stepanic

Arvas: Black Satanic Mysticism
Aeternitas Tenebrarum Music Foundation
4.6 / 5