Arkhitekt – Untitled

cover

Label: Blackened Death Records

You know that statement about not judging a book by its cover? The same should be said about band names. After all, Arkhitekt is the kind of band name that, to me, brings to mind nu-metal and deathcore. Thankfully though, Untitled is nothing of the sort, consisting being a moribund, utterly bleak combination of black metal, doom, and, drone. The three tracks are structured fairly loosely, with their strength being not in individual elements, but in how they come together to produce an inhospitable, nihilistic atmosphere. It’s designed not so much to be listened to as immersed in, letting the record pull you under and drown you in its darkness.

It’s important when considering Untitled to keep in mind that it should be taken as a whole. On initial listens, I was desperately searching for something to latch on to – familiar drum or guitar patterns, or key vocal lines that the music is built around. Such elements are notable by their near-absence – it’s almost as if each track is a collection of free-form different ideas and movements placed together, rather than being constructed in a more traditional sense. It makes for a very difficult listen, but after a few plays, it all clicks in to place. The realisation that the drums often aren’t so much setting down a strict rhythm as they are adding texture and dynamics is particularly important.

From there, it becomes much easier to appreciate (if not enjoy) what Arkhitekt are doing. Each track has a slightly different tone, with opener “And So We Destroyed Everything” feeling the most difficult and free-form of the three tracks. “Blackened Bones” is built upon something close to a typical drone riff, with the vicious black metal vocals stopping the listener from ever quite settling as they might with other drone records. Finally, closer “Extinction” begins in a manner that almost suggests respite – its opening four minutes being more dark ambient than anything else – before the monstrous drone metal begins, dragging the listener back down in to the darkness they thought they may have escaped from. It’s an unusual way for the EP to end, but it does ensure that Untitled remains an uncomfortable, challenging listen from start to finish.

As all of this might point towards, Untitled is clearly not a record for everyone, even fans of drone and the darker end of the metal spectrum. It takes several listens to even begin to understand what it is trying to do, with its almost avant-garde nature presenting a high barrier to entry, even for a style that is difficult to grasp at its most accessible. Nor is it a record for everyday listening; it’s one to sink in to, shutting everything else out, when all your mind craves is nihilism and darkness. You may not turn to it often, but when the mood strikes, Untitled is a punishing, yet cathartic piece of the most challenging kind of drone.

Untitled is available to stream and download via Bandcamp.

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