IV: Arrow in Heart

Continuing the harrowing black metal stylings of the landmark III, former Antaeus vocalist MkM has fulfilled the expectations of arguably one of 2012s most anticipated black metal releases. No ifs and or buts, Arrow in Heart is and will be one of the most striking and regally filthy black metal releases of the year and cements Aosoth and MkM as the benchmark for black metal in this modern era of black metal’s more undulating and feverish tones.

The term ‘regally filthy’ is all I could come up with as Arrow in Heart, while full of discordant, dissonant filth, albeit a bit cleaner than III, it has this aloof, elite stance and presence that looks down on the listener with brash austerity. It knows its brilliant, it knows it will be one of the years most lauded, iconic albums, and sneers with insidious disdain at all pretenders. It’s so well crafted and dripping with atonal majesty that you can’t help cower in its presence.

With a dense but malefic guitar tone (and killer, menacing rhythm section), Arrow in Heart gets right to it with a 10 minute opening title track which slithers and writhes with serpentine causticity out of the gate, no warning shots or intro. But it isn’t a pure unrelenting beat down, the pacing is so well delivered that the mid song pulsing segue is a natural, fluid transition, yet haunting in its effectiveness before it explodes again with regal, blackened fury. It’s nigh perfect.

“One with the Prince with a Thousand Enemies” opens with a restrained march, and overall has a much more malevolent, sickly sheen that’s foreboding yet shimmers and throbs before yet another perfect black metal salvo of atonal majesty. “Temple of Knowledge” is a more immediate, direct and pure example of black metal, but has a layered, harrowing background undercurrent and ebb that lurk in the background of the song’s traditional front end. It’s very clever, very subtle but also very wicked, much like the cover as the angel of death whispers into the ear of the dying angel before an abrupt end. “Under Nails & Fingertips” lulls you into a false sense of security with a plodding opening few bars, then just opens up with sudden abandon and closing out with shrill, unnerving purpose.

There is a little more experimentalism with the duo of “Broken Dialog I” and “II”, mixing moody acoustics and mechanical instrumental marches with servile spoken words and disturbing, esoteric samples (especially part II), but they serve as a slight breather before the 14 minute closer “Ritual Marks of Penitence” flagellates the listener into a pulpy submission with cryptic, ritualistic throes, peaking with blistering, nerve wracking urgency. Even at 60 minutes, Arrow in Heart never drags on or feels over long. The tempo shifts and dread filled atmospherics aren’t forced or piecemeal, and the album just comes together as a complete work of art with nothing out of place or gratuitous. Every note and moment serves as a piece of greater, deliberate profane plan (i.e. there’s a riff in the closer at about the 5:11 mark that’s so understated but so brilliant, it almost registers on a purely subconscious level).

While Chris Grigg’s Woe and bands like Pact have elevated US black metal scene into the same elite, nasty realms, with Aosoth, the French have raised the bar again as they did a decade ago with the likes of Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega and made French black metal the new standard once again.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 6th, 2013


  1. Commented by: DrunkenMonkey

    Great review of a nigh unto perfect album. This is a masterpiece. With this and the new Altar of Plagues, the genre has really been moved forward.

  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    every note I’ve heard has been insane

  3. Commented by: KickMyJunk

    While I may still prefer III just a little bit, this album is great and is certainly worthy of everyone’s purchase.

  4. Commented by: GDubya

    Aosoth can do no wrong. I love this band. I’ll mention BST since you didn’t. He plays most of the music.

  5. Commented by: Luke_22

    An absolute beast of an album. This is my first experience with the band and I’ve been blown away. It has a great beefy production too. Nice review.

  6. Commented by: Cal

    Damn, first time hearing this band. Brilliant.

  7. Commented by: GDubya

    Go back and Get Ashes of Angels. That is the blueprint. Awesome.

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