Anael - From Arcane Fires
Paragon Records
Occult Black Metal
7 songs (61'23")
Release year: 2008
Paragon Records
Reviewed by Alex

Anael’s From Arcane Fires has been riding shotgun in my car for the longest time. Periodically I would have a stab at it, always thinking that I need more time for these long hypnotic passages to sink in. The album just wasn’t coming to me on the “feel”, I needed time to think it through, so I kept on trying, especially considering that some of the people whose taste I trust labeled it the best grower of 2008.

I have not heard a note of Anael before, so I have no benefit comparing From Arcane Fires to the band’s earlier works or why the Germans felt they were going more “direct and personal” with the album. Suffice it to say that in some strict classification system the album would not even qualify as black metal, it has strong outside influences ranging as wide as they are unlikely, from doom to shoegaze. The utmost goal of this music is to induce a trance-like state, with its repeating parts and winding passages. Whenever the tempo picks up and tremolo picking ensues (Devil’s Tongues), the band still does not become a full throttle machine, their max tempo is some unhurried semi-blast (Song of the Moth). How truly black Anael is absolutely irrelevant, but through all my attempts, through all starts and stops with this record, the faster parts failed to captivate me with their emotion, be it anger, hate or warmth, while the slower repetitive moments induced more sleepiness than they did ritualistic feelings.

From Arcane Fires is in no way a bad album. The feeling of percussive psychedelia and surprising brighter outlook shoegaze on Down Winding Stairs hits the mark. The mid-song riff in this composition is an excellent find and the band rightfully rides it to the end. The SunnO))) opening of Blood & Honey is a little out of place, but the strong melody with an audible bass line from Song of the Moth is peaking nicely, right before occult chanting of All Souls’ Night unfolds into a full Candlemass-like epic, but of darker blacker variety. The gooey viscous resinous closer Muspilli has a definite folk angle, bringing up the end of the world conclusion to the album. All of these interesting moments come in spades and come later in the album, so the incomplete feeling of album not hitting on all cylinders from the beginning unfortunately persists.

The tone of the music also happens to be somewhat ho-hum. The production is by no means raw, but somehow guitars sound way too muddy. As a result they are neither scathing nor heavy. Seraphackh’s vocals range from spoken to vomit shrieks, but they also neither subdue nor pierce eardrums. It is if the band is going through the motions, important to them personally, but failing to transcend the line between them and anonymous listener.

Interestingly enough that Anael’s fans may come from such unlikely to co-exist groups as early Samael and Rotting Christ followers, as well as Negura Bundet and gloomier Alcest adherents. Perhaps, I should have been playing From Arcane Fires backwards, or listen more to why the album grew on the experts quoted above, but, in the end, my mind remained unaffected.

Killing Songs :
Down Winding Stairs, Song of the Moth
Alex quoted 66 / 100
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