Release Date: 01/11/2019
Label: Satanic Art Media
Forget the preamble: Arvas is (currently) a one-man black metal project from Norway. Active for the last decade, the band has four full-length records under their belt, and Equanimity is their latest offering.
Arvas play black metal. This means tremolo riffs, fast bass and blast beats. Lots of blast beats. From the get-go, it’s obvious that Equanimity is not out to reinvent the wheel. From its real opener, Thoughts in Despair, it brings out its arsenal and lays it at your feet. This track puts out pretty much the album’s general direction. It’s competently played black metal, no frills.
There are some divergences from this though. Carven is a heavy metal influenced track that breaks up the ongoing, relentlessly uniform assault of black metal. My Devil brings some atmospheric black into the mix before touching upon (but not to completion) a blackgaze-ish section, complete with major chords.
Equanimity suffers from many issues that keep it from ranking anywhere near high, however. First and foremost is the uninspired songwriting. The constant blast beats, d-beats and tremolo riffing swallow the album whole and before long, you forget which song you are even on, mostly because they don’t have that many distinguishing characteristics. Until Carven, there is not much but just typical rigmarole and neither is there much of anything else after.
But there are weird, god-awful experiments clogging the latter third of the album. We have The Horned One, which suddenly shifts to a bad rendition of Fear Factory-esque “heavy” riffing and takes its sweet time trying to turn that into black. Also worthy of special mention is the terrible closer, Masked Jackal, which is a cliché thrash song with a horrid, hard-rock style bridge with a tinny solo for reasons unexplained. Both of these tracks have no place in this album.
To add insult the injury, Equanimity is so unappealing to listen to. I don’t mean that the band makes it difficult, this isn’t Tetragrammacide. I mean the production choices are wrong, especially where the drums are concerned. The drums are absolutely lifeless. It’s not Gene Hoglan mechanical, it’s just uninspired and mixed in with a horrible emphasis on the kicks.
Coupled with the general lack of inspiration and anything other than this weird bass emphasis to distinguish it, Equanimity falls flat. It’s not Arvas’ fault that there are too many black metal bands out there, but it is their fault that they did not even seem to have tried to distinguish themselves. This lack of originality, to me, translates to a rather uninteresting album.
However, if black metal is your thing, then Equanimity is sure to give you what you like. If you’re new to this, you can also enjoy it. Others and genre aficionados can also enjoy it, but will soon be looking for other things. I say, worth at least a go.
Vassago Rex. He does everything.
01. Andante Noire (Intro)
02. Thoughts in Despair
04. Perception and Visions
05. Cursed by the Trident
07. My Devil
08. The Horned One
09. Times Gone
10. Masked Jackal