The Czech Black Metallers Arthedain finally released their first full length album with the German underground record label. Naturmacht Productions this year, after the two EPs ‘By the Light of the Moon‘ and ‘Arias Exalted‘ from 2014.

Infernal Chaos of the Desolate‘ starts off without fuss: ‘A Testament to Failure’ sets in with a melancholic riff in carried tempo, with the drums setting in with a shrill and rattling sound. Charles Wolford’s growled vocals instantly strike the listener as powerful and well-articulated. The melodic slowness of the instrumentals is kept up and clearly evokes an Eastern European Black Metal aesthetic, on the one hand reminiscent of for example Mgła, and on the other with a unique character. The instrumental bridge boasts with nice clean instrumentals, polyphonically resounding guitars and subdued blast beats.The melancholy comes across strongly; after about three minutes however, the listener wonders whether the song moves towards the end or not, while only about the half is over yet. Live this would evoke a meditative effect but on record it seems unnecessarily drawn out. The memorable riffs, melodic chorus and nifty syncopic drum work towards the end make the length easy to forgive, though.

‘Where Nonexistence is All’ starts way darker with a sprinkle of Norwegian spirit, but as soon as the vocals set in the track becomes startlingly groovy. The aggressive and low guitar riffs radiate energy, whereas the vocals are very rhythmic and rather slow, which gives the song good sing-along live potential.

The transition to ‘Depths of Isolation’ is a bit of a stumble, somewhat forced and abrupt. It takes a few bars for this song to find its own rhythm that is more slow paced, soft-sounding and ethereal. Nicholas Colvin’s lightly resounding guitars contrast nicely with the dark growls that are convincingly balanced with the rest of the sound by adding or taking away force in line with the instrumentals. Increased staccato among the guitars builds up tension and roughness, and a simple riff as bridge serves well to reset one’s mind for the melancholic onslaught that is about to follow: Pleasantly subdued blast beats provide a strong supporting foundation for the dark guitars.

‘Consuming the Aurora’ seems to pick up on the melancholic soundscape that the foregoing song has established, albeit the guitar sound is a little lighter and the song picks up speed and energy. The screaming vocals in the chorus support this change in atmosphere. Unfortunately, the bridge is introduced with some sort of breakdown rhythm that seems somewhat out of place instead of adding to a feel of variation. This pieced together impression leaves a bit of a weird aftertaste.

The next track ‘Infernal Cadence’ starts very ambitiously with a focus strong dark screams. Soon we move into groovy drums accompanied by a typically piercing Black Metal guitar sound tying in well with the vocals in the chorus. The drums at the beginning seem a little odd at first but the song manages to come out as a coherent whole eventually; it is easy to zone out to the powerful and meditative atmosphere it creates.

‘Arcane Ascension’ boasts with strong melodic guitars that evoke a feel of cold and desolation, whereas the vocals are full of heated aggression. With 4:34 minutes, this song belongs to the shorter ones on the record and seems to have just the perfect length to remain compelling to the last note.

We continue to ‘A Garden Lies Barren’ that convinces with strong and darkly euphoric guitar motifs that are weaved into the rhythm guitar riffs and get taken up repeatedly and convincingly throughout the entire song. Overall, the transitions to different parts of this track are smooth. This song gives away strongly that it is telling us a story, especially as verse and chorus are repeated several times; the latter may leave the listener wondering whether a bit more variety would serve the song but at the same time the beautiful melodies are easy to surrender to.

‘None Shall Remain’ creates a darkened heavy metal aesthetic, with boldly plastic guitars. The drums and aggressively powerful vocals push the song forward, while we still get good slower moments to breathe and sink into the guitar melodies. Before the song gets a bit too long like many of the other tracks, a musical climax around the fourth minute makes a good ending.

The fast and energetic start to ‘As One’ seems a little disruptive as it sets in so quickly after the previous song has ended. The bright and vibrant guitar sound is beautiful, though, and the focus on vocals and slow staccato melodies give the song a unique rhythmic quality. Ilya Tabachnik’s drums are fast and precise, creating a stage for the vocals and melodies to shine.