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Arctos - Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands Award winner

Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 17 July 2019, 3:10 AM

ARCTOS is the voice of the mountains, the call of the rising wild. Inspired by the Godless wastelands of Norther Alberta as well as the jagged monoliths of the Canadian Rockies, they bring together a unique blend of sounds to craft a form of Black Metal rife with atmosphere and melody. Formed in 2014 by a group of veteran musicians, ARCTOS is well steeped in musical tradition. “Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands” is set for release in September, 2019, and contains seven tracks.

“The Ancestor’s Path” leads off the album. “The Ancestor’s Path” leads off the album, at over ten minutes in length. There is a long and ominous build up to the main riff, which is solemn in nature. The Black Metal vocals are supported by a constant drum presence that changes from a steady cadence to blast beats, and back again. At around the half way mark, strings carry the melody and water can be heard softly splashing in the background. At one point the guitars carry the melody as well and it’s quite charming. “Shattered Tomb” opens with angry guitars and fast moving drums. The vocals are raging and the overall sound is harrowing. The main riff is absolutely commanding and you can tell that the band has full control over their craft. “Somnos Aeternus” opens with a pretty little keyboard melody that almost sounds like simulated strings. Then, piano takes over, until the main riff kicks in. The harmonized clean vocals are a nice touch as well. The sound drops around the half way mark, letting in some atmosphere into the track. The sound swells again and it finishes with those solemn piano notes.

“The Spectre” is a very short one-minute instrumental that features a short guitar passage that segues into “Autumn’s Herald…Interitus.” A big riff hits you out of the gate. Some clean vocals are mixed in, and the wasteland that the band was inspired by really hits home here. It’s desolate, echoing off a vast landscape of nothingness. It finishes on a plate of melancholy clean guitars that seem to wander off into the abyss. “A Realm Beyond” opens with piano chords that are neither from the darkness nor the light. The main riff then slams in hard, as do the bass guitar notes. The riff moves around with the precision of an experience surgeon, never choosing to rest. “The Light Beyond the Sky (The Passage II) opens with clean guitars and strong, cold winds, leading to a fast and furious riff with thunderous drumming. This track moves at a furious pace, and only slows just a bit for the final few minutes. It ends with those chilling winds blowing hard, trying to wipe you from existence.

Overall, this was an experience, not just an album. When they talked about them being experienced musicians, it shows. They crafted a unique take on the genre, and it propelled the album forward. Various blends and twists along the way, added with doses of atmosphere and more ambient moments really made the album as strong as it was. It’s Black Metal at its core, but it’s so much more. “Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands” is the soundtrack for Canadian Black Metal.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. The Ancestor’s Path
2. Shattered Tomb
3. Somnos Aeternus
4. The Spectre
5. Autumn’s Herald…Interitus
6. A Realm Beyond
7. The Light Beyond the Sky (The Passage II)
Dan Wilberg – Vocals, Guitar
Nick Wilberg – Piano
Josh Needham – Drums
Jeremy Puffer – Guitar
Jacob Masionneuve – Bass
Record Label: Northern Silence Productions


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Edited 08 December 2022

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