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Arvas – Equanimity

by Santiago Puyol at 06 January 2020, 10:22 PM

ARVAS, previously known as ÖRTH, is a Norwegian Extreme Metal band with elements of Black and Death Metal, formed in 1993 by V-Rex. The band, at least when it comes to studio recordings, acts as a vehicle for V-Rex’s songwriting, as he performs most instruments as well as vocals on all records. "Equanimity" is ARVAS’ fifth album so far, following 2017’s "Black Path."

"Andante Noire" features weird, distorted sounds and some muffled spoken-word, all leading to a lovely organ section. An explosion or gunshot sound effect gives way to the next track in an abrupt way. "Thoughts in Despair" is brutal in sound with V-Rex’s cracked voice filled with anguish. An outstanding guitar solo gets buried in the sound because of weird mixing choices. The track climaxes on a massive outro that ends quite abruptly.

"Wastelands" takes a more melodic approach when it comes to riffs, still atop breakneck blast beats. Meanwhile, a driving rhythm carries "Perception and Visions" adorned with flanger-heavy guitars. It is a dynamic track with several changes in mood that get into heavier and louder territory at times.

Then comes "Cursed by the Trident," an exercise in riffing that adds little to what the record had previously done. In a more surprising note, "Carven" takes a page or two from 1970s Hard Rock with its catchy, melodic riffing. It ends up building towards a startling crescendo of technical soloing and brutal drumming.

Layered, delayed guitar gets "My Devil" going. Its intro feels straight out of a sci-fi movie. It’s a hard-hitting song that gets into brutal mode once the vocals enter, and it never leaves.

"The Horned One" makes the most of a thrashy build-up before exploding into another blast beat assault. It certainly feels epic in the context of the album. Being a dynamic track helps considering it is also the longest on the album, a little over five and a half minutes. It could have been an outstanding closer, something that certainly hurts "Times Good." Despite being a good, fast-paced and heavy song, it feels a little lackluster after the amazing "The Horned One," a bit of an afterthought and less of a closer.

Branded as a "special track," the album features a bonus cover of CORONER’s "Masked Jackal." It is an interesting track, and ends up functioning as a better closer than "Times Gone" if it could be considered one. Although it doesn’t do much more than the original, it pays modest homage to the song.

The production is quite uneven. Although most of the record is adequately produced, but instruments sometimes get buried on the mix, the bass being a more prominent example throughout the record. The length of the record makes it easier to enjoy, as it does not overstay its welcome.

"Equanimity" does not lack in heaviness and manages to be a solid, mostly interesting record, with great musicianship and compact songwriting. It can be a little repetitive, especially when it comes to the heavier and shorter track, making the longer, sometimes softer songs a little more memorable. Overall, it’s a solid record with a couple of gems in it.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Andante Noire
2. Thoughts in Despair
3. Wastelands
4. Perception and Visions
5. Cursed by the Trident
6. Carven
7. My Devil
8. The Horned One
9. Times Gone
10. Masked Jackal (Coroner cover)
V-Rex –Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keys & Vocals
Record Label: Satanic Art Media


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