Friday, November 13, 2015

Local Love: Review of Archarus's Render Unto Archarus

Right from the moment the speedy riff kicks in on the opening "Sea Wolf," it quickly becomes apparent that Archarus of Indianapolis isn't as chill as your average doom group. The guitar tone is a dead ringer for Sleep's Holy Mountain and an appreciation for bands like The Sword is made loud and clear, but there is also a subtle hint of thrash influence. The drums have a technical tightness that differs from the usual swing, the vocals have a harsh edge that seems to mix Steve Sousa of Exodus and Orange Goblin's Ben Ward, and even the comparably loose "Tower Of The Wizard" is executed in an aggressively rigid fashion.

With this in mind, the fastest songs predictably end up being the album's best. In addition to "Sea Wolf," "Under A Tattered Banner" and "The Last Of The Giant" match aggressive riffs with catchy as hell choruses. That said, the slower songs have a fair amount to offer as well. "Snow Hammer" is the best of these tracks due to the more ominous instrumentation though "Fire Blade" holds up with strong vocal lines and a more elaborate structure.
But while the rigid approach helps Archarus feel more composed than most doom groups, there are times where they may be a bit too stilted. This is most apparent on the slower tracks such as "Lizardfish" where the vocal lines aren't meant to be as prominent but still threaten to overpower the rest of the band. In addition, some may find the production to be a bit too clean and running the risk of the Loudness War tropes, but it generally works in the album's favor.

Redundant title aside, Render Unto Archarus is a strong debut that offers a few quirks while respectfully adhering to the tenets of stoner doom. While the slower songs could afford to be more powerful, the emphasis on faster tempos and thrashy vocals more than make up for it. It may even serve as a nice alternative to those put off by the drones of Electric Wizard and their ilk. One can wonder how these sounds will be mingled further but this makes for a fun ride.

"Sea Wolf"
"Under A Tattered Banner"
"Tower Of The Wizard"
"The Last Of The Giants"

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