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Arcane Existence – Colossus Award winner

Arcane Existence
by Thomas Kumke at 24 August 2021, 9:11 PM

ARCANE EXISTENCE hailing from San Jose, California were formed in 2016. They are a symphonic Black/Death Metal band. Initially it was meant as a solo project of Kiera Pietrangelo, the debut album was released together with two studio musicians in 2017. The full line-up was completed in 2018. “Colossus” is the second full-length album and it was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Nick Loiacono and Bobby Carroll at Fang Studios in California. The album has a length of more than 55 minutes.

Colossus” is a concept album and it is about a journey through a mystical land to reach the castle Colossus. Every song is its own chapter through this journey. It all starts with “Mystic” which is setting the scene. Musically, it is a mix of dark guitar riffs supported by double-bass drumming, piano, harp, as well as orchestral background elements. The vocals are a mix of the brutal growls of Jade Ordonez and the angelic clean voice of Becca McCabe. The orchestra plays very well together with the Metal instruments as evident in “Sovereign Blood” which has a dominant contribution of the orchestra. Both vocalists sing perfectly together, reminding a bit on the beauty and the beast concept. The growls are mainly at the medium and higher end of the guttural vocal range. While most songs are mainly mid-tempo tracks, “Transmutation” starts very fast and aggressive including some blast-beat attacks. The sound is very dark and blackened and seems DIMMU BORGIR inspired. While the growling vocals are dominant for most of the track, the clean vocals alongside the piano take over proceedings during the final third of the track. It becomes a battle between the angelic voice and the growls with the latter one having the final word.

The sound becomes more complex and distorted in “Conclave” which is introduced by the short track “Formation”. “Conclave” is, as many songs on “Colossus”, predominantly a Death Metal song with the typical Death Metal riffing, drumming, and growling. However, ARCANE EXISTENCE very smartly introduce the operatic elements into the songs and Becca McCabe takes over once more during the second half of the song. “Conclave” becomes more and more bombastic as the song goes on. While in “Conclave” Death Metal and orchestral part are structured in an alternate fashion, “Scroll Of Augury” combines both aspects perfectly together and it creates a great mix of Death Metal and orchestra, although I would have liked to hear some more contribution from the clean vocals. The transitions in “The Altar” are less smooth and more abrupt. The clean vocals are here perfect and I like the way how the harp is embedded into the sound. “The Altar” is one of the highlights on the album and it was released as video with the YouTube link given below.

Castle On The Hill” is clearly one of the fastest and most aggressive songs on “Colossus”, but it includes also some great melodies including a comprehensive lead guitar solo. Highlight is here the duet of both vocalists. While “Castle On The Hill” is pretty Metal dominated, there is more interplay with the orchestra in “Conducting The Scourge”. The track has the aggressiveness of “Castle On The Hill” especially with the brutal growling of Jade Ordonez and is one of the darkest tracks on the album where the doom and gloom is intensified by the orchestra. I had the feel that there was an arc of suspense built into the album which culminated with the title track. “Colossus” combines all the sound elements of the album to a harmonic ensemble: Death Metal, Black Metal, orchestral and operatic parts, and melodies. It is simply a piece of great songwriting.

Colossus” is a journey which is not for everyone. If you dig it, it will not let you go. ARCANE EXISTENCE did not simply write an album, they created an art work which is embedded into a mystic story. The sound on the album is a mixture between Death Metal and Black Metal put into an orchestral framework with more or less complexity. Each song has a very individual sound, yet it is part of the overall concept which is evidence for an excellent songwriting. The album is very well produced. “Colossus” can go head to head with every of the great symphonic Death/Black Metal albums and it should be part of the collection of every fan of that genre.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  9
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

1. Mystic
2. Sovereign Blood (ft. Bobby Carroll)
3. Transmutation
4. Formation
5. Conclave
6. Scroll Of Augury
7. The Altar
8. Enchantment
9. Castle On The Hill (ft. Bobby Carroll)
10. Conducting The Scourge
11. Colossus
12. Beneath Withered Stone
13. A Light Between Realms
Jade Ordonez – Vocals
Kiera Pietrangelo – Guitars, Bass
Chris Zinnanti ­ Guitars
Harley Blandford – Drums
Becca McCabe – Clean Vocals, Harp, Keyboards
Record Label: Independent


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