Arckanum

Kostogher

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The second album by Swedish one-man (plus guests) pagan black metal project Arckanum was originally released in 1998, and it's a worthy sequel to Fran Marder. The cover art depicts a masked, hooded figure (presumably mainman Shamaatae) holding an elaborately carved staff and beckoning you, the viewer, into the Scandinavian wilderness. The music is well-suited to the packaging, as it combines black metal rawness (buzzing guitars, almost tribally primitive drumming, inhuman vocals) with wilderness/Viking sound effects of horses, thunder, metal clanging against metal, etc. As on Fran Marder, there are additional sounds, most notably female vocals and violin inserting elements of Scandinavian folk into the noisy metalscape. This album is much more intense and less varied than its predecessor; the rhythms are pretty much set on "blast" from beginning to end, and the songs are all fairly similar, making this one less of a revelation, and more of a reward for black metal diehards than Fran Marder. But it's still obvious that Shamaatae is seriously committed to his musical and spiritual vision, lyrics in ancient Swedish and all.