“Our stories won’t be written with ink and mirth. But carved in flesh and the soul of the earth. The whispers of the wind will cease to be. All we hear is the wailing of the oceans plea” – “The Archive”.

Arkivet (Archive) is the third album from stellar, fast-rising new Swedish melodic black metal act Wormwood, and their first two albums, 2017 Ghostlands (which made my year-end list that year) a 2019s Nattarvet, were both excellent albums that showed them as promising newcomers on the scene. But now, with Arkivet the band has cemented themselves as one of the genre’s elite, veteran acts.

A conceptual album from a Michael Stromberg novel (based on ideas from the band), tells the dour tale about ‘humanity’s destructive force, the inability to adapt to our nature and our inevitable and well-deserved death’, Arkivet is the band’s most somber and melancholic effort, despite still being gorgeous melodic black metal. But this more morose approach fits the album’s lyrical concepts of mankind’s selfishness and appetite for destruction of the planet earth, and you feel the sorrow and anger in every song that tells a different chapter in the inevitable fall of mankind.

Opener “The Archive”, tells the story written by the few who survived the apocalypse and carries the weight of that story in its deep, urgent melodic canter, but rending clean breaks and vocals at the song’s back end enforce the harrowing nature of the earth’s demise and the survivors desire to preserve memories of the human race. The second track “Overgrowth” explains how nature takes the planet back after mankind’s extinction, and mixes in a mid-paced, somber march with the deftly, melodic black metal, that again perfectly captures the mood of the saga unraveling.

Things get even more somber for the aptly titled “End of Message”, which despite its energetic canter, drips with apocalyptic despondency, especially the mid-song break into a more controlled, emotive stagger. “My Northern Heart” takes on the events with an, almost Viking approach, complete with bouncier, folky instrumentation, and pacing, with a killer melodic riff about 2 and a half minutes in, while”Ensamheten” has one of the albums best tremolo-picked harmonies amid its sentimental view of events from a Scandinavian point of view.

The last 2 tracks, “The Slow Down” and the 9 minute “The Gentle Touch of Humanity”, both deliver much slower, melancholic throes, some sobering samples, and ‘news’ reports ingrained in the latter. However, by this time in the album, I kinda want something a little more urgent, upbeat and harmonic, especially in my melodic black metal. I understand the subject matter is grim, and more importantly, incredibly relevant today, but I listen to music to get away from the real world. Still, Wormwood has taken on an ambitious topic, and the resultant album, while a fine effort, just isn’t quite as memorable as the debut.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 6th, 2021


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