From Arcane Fires

Those out there into pre-93 black metal take note of Germany’s Anael, if you have not already for shame. Anael is a relatively new band that formed about a decade ago that I have been enjoying since 2003 but listening to them is like going back to 1991 and earlier. What first caught my attention about this band was the occult mindset, and nothing has really changed it that regard, they are still firmly an occult black metal band. The band says this time out the tone is more personal. That approach has not lead to a substantive break from their past. Early Tiamat, early Samael, Celtic Frost, the Greek bands, and of course Bathory are still heavily in evidence.

From Arcane Fires features long songs, much longer than past efforts,  with a slow pace, with drawn out notes, and a heavy guitar sound. Drumming is very minimal but pervasive and simple guitar lines carry the songs forward. Drums add the embellishment as well as the beat. Keeping in mind that this is black metal, the production is nice and clear. Distortion is used effectively, not obliterating the notes but extending their feel. The vocal style has changed again, but not as drastically as from Necromantic Rituals to On Wings of Mercury. This time, vocalist Seraphackh is close to his performance from last timeout with a bit of a leaning towards his own past. I like his once again used Nemtheanga (Primordial) stylings, you heard it previously on “Swords.”

Many would find the songs much too long, as in boring, but I get caught up in the flow of them. The songs are not quite mesmerizing, but definitely carefully composed and that subtlety of expression wins me over. They have mainly cut the middle eastern melodies used so effectively last time. The melodic lines are also not as prominent, leaning more towards ritualistic minimalism this time, resulting in less Tiamat styled atmospherics and more doomish ambience. The darkness themes have been stretched to the edges of doom and their sound would prompt some to label them a doom band. Those people would rightly recognize Candlemass influences but fail to understand Anael is firmly a black band.

“All Soul’s Night” starts off with drums as a heartbeat, guitars add some droning, there is spoken word with some echo and distortion, but still clearly understood. Drums add some texture, and the black voice enters and picks up the guitar along the way. Guitars become more imposing and drums answer with a heavier bass drum presence. This song seems quite static, like it could carry on timelessly, especially the slower parts with single notes reverberating to their maximum. Drums take on a more militant tone six minutes in and the vocals become more forceful. An attempt at singing, albeit harshly, closes out the song. “Blood and Honey” flows so slowly it does not even get out of its own way. Check out “Down Winding Stairs”, also, another favorite.

Anyone into the occult end of black metal, especially those that think black metal must be about the occult, it all started with Mercyful Fate after all, should not pass this one up. I have spent a bit of time revisiting the two previous albums and I must say I still think Necromantic Rituals is their best, but From Arcane Fires is not to be missed. It is worth quoting the cd booklet: “While its predecessor  was a journey deep into the realm of the occult, From Arcane Fires is a little more direct, more rooted in history and personal experience…the foundation of our spirit and so of our music.” And that is the essence of why you should be experiencing it right now.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
February 4th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Dan

    They are one letter away from ‘Anal’

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