EPK – Artach – Sworn to Avenge (Depressive Illusions Records) (2021)
Publicist – Jon Asher – jon[@]ashermediarelations[.]com
For fans of Venom, Immortal, Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, Satyricon
Album Title: Sworn to Avenge
Release Date: June 25, 2021
Label: Depressive Illusions Records
“The song (She Gathers Leaves) is a thrill-ride, but also reveals elements of gothic witchiness. The raw vocals are caught up in a paroxysm of fierce, crazed adoration, venting cold-blooded roars as well as braying, throat-stripping howls and cut-throat screams. The full-throttle drumming is tumultuous, a changing array that hammers, gallops, rocks, thunders, and blasts. Urgently rising chords provide a recurring theme, surrounded by flame-throwing riffs that dart, pulsate, and spasm, drawing on elements of thrash and classic heavy metal as well as black metal. Ecstatically swirling leads further add to the wildness of the song. A mood of mystery does surface in the track’s brief intro, and that mood surfaces again in the song’s back half, leading into a necromantic guitar solo that takes flight in scintillating fashion.” – No Clean Singing
“check out Artach for a truly epic journey into the wildernesses that populate the dark fantasy land conjured through their excellent music. This sophomore album tells me that this is a band that will be releasing much good material for years to come and will soon be headlining the epic black metal stages or charts both online and at festivals. An excellent job all round.” – Metal Rules
“”Sworn to Avenge is a mind-assaulting record… You’ll hear the influences of classic black metal bands like Venom, early-Bathory as well as elements of the second wave; Immortal, Darkthrone etc. Ugly and uninviting stuff but very satisfying if you enjoy the gloomier side of metal… It’s a mammoth listen and does take its toll, but the array of ideas that Artach showcase does keep things interesting. An hour slips by, the cold has sunk deep into the bones and you’ll be left wondering if you’ll ever be warm again.” – Games, Brrraaains And A Head-Banging Life
“Very melodic black metal, yet aggressive and heavy with undeniable influences from plain old straightforward heavy metal, so while things are definitely “black metal”, there’s a lot of discipline at play and this is definitely not your average raw, chaotic black metal. There’s order to the chaos on Sworn to Avenge, but that doesn’t prevent it from being aggressive and sometimes kind of depressing and melancholic despite not descending into the slower playing usually associated with those stylings. It’s a rollercoaster of “fuck yeah!” and “kill me now” (in sort of a good way).” – The Metal Crypt
“Now for some blackened thrash from Canada’s Artach, a band with an unusual take on the genre and a very unique sound. The good news is that if you’re a thrash fan you’re going to like this album. The even better news is that if you’re a blackened thrash fan you’re going to love this album. All of your favourite elements are present, plenty of riffs, a great blend between groove, rawness and aggression and raw, high energy vocals. There is something for everyone here which is why I can see the album having a broad appeal.” – Cavedweller Music
“The album is comparable to watching a movie with astonishing twists where you think “I wasn’t expecting that!”. It shifts in intensity from chaotic black metal to more melodic and harmonious moments in the most spectacular manner. Again I have to mention the vocals, they are intriguing and unhinged and provide a visualisation of a person wracked with torture. A very refreshing display of black metal from a band that is clearly intent on forging their own path. Recommended for fans of Venom, Bathory, Darkthrone and Celtic Frost” – Metal-Roos
“With the jagged band name and bleak setting you can look upon the cover and get a taste of what’s in store, then you add in the hooded man with the sword and your ideas may be subverted, perhaps not. This is the real genius of Artach. They are making music that crosses genres; a bit of black metal, death metal, old school horns up fists of air grabbing metal as well. My favourite moments are when the band pushes the edges of what to expect and if they keep up this rate of writing, next year we are all in for a treat. ” – The Killchain Blog
“The album is definitely black metal – but there are some really nice elements in that that makes this author think the musicians are truly having some fun. In particular, ‘Frozen In Time’, exhibits this by delivering several rhythmic textures and a variety of guitar techniques. The vocals are also just well placed in this track in both timing and style.” – Brutalism (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
“Artach have overnight become one of the most interesting bands to come out of the Newfoundland metal scene in some time, not only for the Darkthrone-esque duality of their lineup, but for their genuine appreciation for all things grim and frostbitten and their unique flavour of first wave meets second wave black metal. If you’ve not given Chronicles of a Black Winter a listen yet, give it a spin or two. It’s definitely worth checking out.” – HeavyNFLD (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
“Artach is a mysterious two-piece Black Metal band who have issued their debut CHRONICLES OF A BLACK WINTER. Artach have spawned some fierce raw and primeval Black Metal. I’m hearing lots of classic Hellhammer/Bathory/Venom and maybe even dipping into second wave stuff like Immortal. It is all very black and grim the way this type of stuff should be.” – Metal-Rules (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
“Like the album’s title may suggest, this album’s atmosphere is as cold and bleak as the North winds. The album is very riff focused with modern production, but it isn’t too clean—I actually really enjoyed the production. Vocally, it is very unique and [not] just the same ol endless blackened screams.” – Metal Temple (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
“A solid dose of second wave black metal.” – Astral Noize (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
“This is an album that took a little time to grow on me and after more listens than I care to count, I still hear little twists that I hadn’t heard before. Pretty cool debut from a band that’s doing its own thing in a genre where bands are often content to imitate.” Rating: ⅘ – The Metal Crypt (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
“It‘s nice to hear that there are still bands nowadays who pay such a tribute to the good old Black Metal days.” – VM-Underground Fanzine (Album Review – 2020 Chronicles of a Black Winter)
Album Title: Sworn to Avenge
Release Date: June 25, 2021
Label: Depressive Illusions Records
1. Tuiteam an Duine (7:08)
2. Ice Throne (5:09)
3. Shimmer (6:35)
4. Endless Tundra (21:35)
5. Into the Frozen Woodlands (4:49)
6. She Gathers Leaves (5:25)
7. Mistress of Black Thorns (6:24)
8. Winter’s End (8:14)
Album Length: 1:05:23
• All songs performed by: Artach
• All songs written by: Artach
• Produced by: Fíochmhar and Artach
• Mixed by: Fíochmhar
• Mastered by: Fredrik Folkare (Necrophobic, Heartwind, Unleashed, Unanimated, etc.) at Chrome Studios
• Album Artwork by: Jerome Comentale
• Music is Canadian Content (MAPL)
• Album Band Line Up:
Fíochmhar: Vocals, Drums, Keyboards
Sruthán: Guitar, Bass
Artach is a two-man black metal band (Sruthán: Guitar/Bass, Fíochmhar: Battery/Vokills/Keys)based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Being from the foggiest, snowiest, wettest, windiest, and gloomiest capital city in Canada, one should not be surprised that this fuels the creation of Black Metal. Their inspiration comes from the land, nature, the bleak weather of the Canadian North, and influential black metal bands.
Since the duo’s formation in the spring of 2019, Artach has been consistently releasing new music. The band’s debut album “Chronicles of a Black Winter” was released digitally during February 2020 and later unleashed on physical CD by Depressive Illusions Records. The full length contained 9 songs of extreme, harsh, and haunting sounds, which included a cover of Celtic Frost’s ‘Jewel Throne’.
Now in 2021, the band returns with their next offering “Sworn To Avenge”, a full-length scourge of raw and relentless bruting gloom. From the calming blasts and savagery of album opener “Tuiteam an Duine” to the ingrained black metal blast beats, and headbanging riffage on “Shimmer” to the 20-minute exploration for the epic “Endless Tundra” about the doomed Franklin expedition of 1846 to the Immortal-esque riffing and unorthodox exorcism of album closer “Winter’s End”, Artach delivers a 65-minute cold deliverance of their surroundings.
The band adds:
“The music on ‘Sworn To Avenge’ is a frigid mixture of topics about nature and how it meets and interacts with the darkness of humankind. The desolation of the world, the planet, and the repeated failure of society to evolve to a place where we are a part of nature and not brutish subjugators of everything in our path… these are all themes described throughout many songs. The music is angry, savage, unhinged, but contains melody and some twists and turns to surprise the listener. Varied song tempos mixing blasting with thrashy, punky, doomy elements keep the sounds interesting and not monotone. Song structures often vary and we never limit a song to a certain length. We indulge and have them be as long, or as short as we think feels right.”
“Sworn To Avenge” will be available digitally from Artach along with CD and cassette via Depressive Illusions Records on June 2021.
2021 – Sworn to Avenge (Depressive Illusions Records)
2020 – Chronicles of a Black Winter (Depressive Illusions Records)
BAND STORY ANGLES / FUN FACTS:
1. Artach doesn’t rehearse or jam, we just write and record constantly (sadly this was slowed down a bit in recent times due to lock-downs due to the raging pandemic). When a song is written, it gets recorded, then we move on to the next one. We’ve probably forgotten how to play the earlier songs as once a song has been finalized we don’t waste time jamming on it as we are not a live band. We move right onto the next song and keep the creative process flowing. For this reason, at any one time, there can be 10+ song ideas in various states of composition.
2. The band’s name, member names, and even some song titles are in Gaelic. It’s not that we speak the language, but because the historical roots of our island involve the immigration of people from Ireland, Scotland, and England. Therefore rather than re-tread the themes of the Scandinavian and Norse lands, which have been overdone in black/pagan/folk metal, we decided to stick with something more authentic to our own roots.
3. Many of the songs are about nature, and many of those involve winter. We live in the coldest, windiest, snowiest, foggiest, a capital provincial city in Canada. We’d give many Norwegian cities a challenge for gloomiest weather. As a result, the climate and nature are themes found in most songs.
4. Sruthán never played bass before Artach – just guitar. Fíochmhar never sang in a band before – just played drums.
Track By Track explanation:
Tuiteam an Duine: This one kicks off the album, it’s immediate. It blasts then calms, the savagery than the relative calmness. We wanted to have an opener that was somewhat in line with the opener on our debut which is an oft-mentioned fav from the first album. The song lyrics are about how humankind overall views themselves atop the food and intelligence chain. We are not. And this will be our undoing. I didn’t want the lyrics to be preachy so the ideas are not meant to pound you over the head totally. The title “Tuiteam an Duine” translates to the fall of man.
Ice Throne: This one is inspired by the technologies of the ancients left behind in the Arctic and discovered by the Stargate SG-1 team. It’s fairly self-descriptive and a fan of the show would recognize some of the ideas.
Shimmer: Lyrically, this one is more descriptive and doesn’t have any hidden meanings. Those shimmering and dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis (in the north) can sometimes be seen even here in Newfoundland, but even further north they look magnificent. There’s a spoken part in this one taken from a part of a poem by David Vedder (1790-1854) that was written about the Northern Lights. Musically this one is one of the more black metal sounding songs with lots of blast beats but as always, tempered with melody and hand-banging riffage.
Endless Tundra: This is about the doomed Franklin expedition. Musically this one was a challenge as we recorded it in 2-3 sessions, unlike the others. The structure is complex with intros, breakdowns, solo sections, and an outro. The plan was to write a song that was about 20mins long, I think we succeeded and added enough parts and riffs so as to not make it repetitive. It is almost like a mini-album in and of itself in some ways.
Into the Frozen Woodlands: Loosely based on the book/film Into The Wild. Thoughts of leaving the shitty world behind and wandering into the wilderness are explored. Of course, it didn’t end well for the unprepared protagonist in this story.
She Gathers Leaves: Lyrically this one is more mystical and pagan. The music has a bit of a gothy feel in places and the music feeling lead to having some lyrics about witchy subject matter.
Mistress of Black Thorns: Mistress of blackthorns is about a cult. They are hell-bent on destruction and desecration of all that is holy in an effort to impress and gather followers to worship the mistress of blackthorns. The musical feel is in line with the subject matter: epic, sinister, and evil. Kind of gives some nods towards the early Norwegian BM scene, without either condemning or condoning their extreme actions.
Winter’s End: The was composed with the plan to not work out any of the music in advance. We came up with all of the parts and recorded the basis of the song in one jam-like session. The keys, which are the only song on the album that uses them, were played by Fíochmhar. He played the intro keys, then the guitars were improvised over the top – after the intro, the song goes into some Immortal-esque riffing and follows a non-traditional structure as it is more of an outro, albeit at full song length. The lyrics describe the end of winter as the title suggests and how despite the warmth, we know the winter will return and we shall rise again!