Arckanum is the one-man band of Shamaatae, drummer for Grotesque, whose dissolution helped birth the legendary Swedish death metal band At the Gates. While obvious stylistic differences like riffing and vocals exist between Grotesque's death metal and Arckanum's black metal, Shamaatae provides a strong connecting thread. His drumming anchors Arckanum, and is much more robust than black metal's usual pitter-patter. "Rokulfargnyr," in particular, has downright funky drum breaks. However, Shamaatae is an all-around fluent instrumentalist. "Daudmellin" hovers on hypnotic tremolo picking; "N kjeptir" has iron-fisted riffing. Shamaatae's howls are monochromatic, and the old Norse Runic lyrics add to the aura of impenetrability. However, one word repeatedly cuts through loud and clear: "Ragnarok," the Scandinavian armageddon. The assault is thickly electric, but two interludes add air. One is an industrial landscape with eerily effected vocals; the other is a magisterial guitar duet. The overall effect is strong, harsh, yet mysterious. ~ Cosmo Lee
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