Released to mark their ten year anniversary, the Expect Us EP from Swiss melodic death metallers Arcturon, makes a tasty and intriguing proposition marking the beginning of a new decade for the band and twist to their enticing sound. Seemingly more adventurous than ever and certainly more bold in the use of additional flavours and styles, it is maybe not a release to blow anyone away yet its lure makes a compelling invitation to keep revisiting the encounter, a potency which should not be underestimated. More successful in some moments than others, but never leaving dissatisfaction lording over proceedings, the EP is a fascinating and ultimately highly enjoyable adventure.
It was around ten years ago that two fourteen year olds, guitarist Florian Moritz and drummer Samuel Fischer, gave creative birth to Arcturon. Honing their sound over time, the band’s first release, the Breaking Walls Demo in 2007, sparked increasing attention for their presence leading to support spots alongside the likes of Six Feet Under, Nile, Finntroll and Belphegor. Three years later came the extremely well-received debut album The Eight Thorns Conflict, with its acclaimed successor An Old Storm Brewing savaging ears in 2013. Sandwiching a successful Europe tour with Rotting Christ and Omnium Gatherum, both releases put the band into a more intensive spotlight which Expect Us does nothing to defuse. Released through Supreme Chaos Records, the Johan Örnborg (Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Amon Amarth) produced EP offers a new diversity and imagination than arguably previous Arcturon encounters. It might be more intriguing than rigorously successful in its imagination, but Expect Us unveils a rather potent and captivating suggestion of where the Basel quartet’s sound is evolving to.
The release opens with My Treasure, an instantly gripping and fiery proposition which from a lone rub of guitar, explodes into a turbulent stroll of abrasing riffs and punchy rhythms cored by a tight intrusive groove. Within seconds imagination and appetite is alight, greedy for the intimidating expansion of the song. The raw hoarse vocals of Aljosha Gasser venomously abrase the senses as a small respite to the tempest unfolds, but it is a reining in soon spearing by bulging beats from Fischer and a dangling web of temptation cast by Moritz, whilst the bass of Sam Fischer (yes two members with the same name) provides a shadowed prowl to the song’s continually twisting landscape. Sonic enterprise and melodic flames also scorch the multi-flavoured interpretation of melodic death metal pouring from the band’s creativity, the incendiary persuasion of the track playing like a mix of Bloodsimple, Dominanz, and Scar Symmetry.
The outstanding start is backed up by the EP’s title track. Raging from its first breath, keys and guitars swarm the senses with toxic melodies as rhythms and riffs sculpt imposing scenery to wall in the magnetic endeavour. As its predecessor, the song grows and expands into a threat of malevolent expression and sonic radiance though it lacks the biting wind and energy of the opener. Instead it breeds an emotive atmosphere which tempers and evocatively colours the robust furnace of intent and sound beneath it, the song captivating and impressing if not igniting the same strength of passions as the first.
A Restless Soul swiftly asserts its compelling hold on ears and thoughts next, an opening melodic caress and embrace of clean vocals unexpected and pleasing freshness, though it is soon turned by a spiteful and malicious intensity, Gasser reaching to his guts to roar with caustic antagonism. Surprises and unpredictability stay to the fore though as the clean vocal delivery entwines with the harsh tones whilst a carnival-esque like drama and sinister seduction flirts with and infiltrates the brewing tempest of the song. It is a tantalising treat of a track, a bruising and tender merger of creative hues which maybe does not go as far into the unknown and explore bold imagination as it could, but definitely leaves anticipation for the band’s exploits ahead excited.
The release is closed by Rowan, another resourceful and radiantly provocative entrance which needs little nudging to turn to its shadows and predacious side. The vocals stalk as keys mesmerise, but it is the rugged terrain of raw riffs and thumping beats which bind the emotions, though their presence again is never clear cut as haunting melodies and sonic expression veins their hostility. A song which at times is glorious and in others a more unsure persuasion, it still provides further food for thought and interest for the band’s new exploration in sound to make a potent close to Expect Us.
Already used to praise and keen attention, Arcturon with their EP as potent evidence, appear to be moving towards a fascinating new chapter in their sound which Expect Us suggests is going to be something very worthy of close attention.
The Expect Us EP is available via Supreme Chaos Records from 24th October.
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