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Poema Arcanus - Stardust Solitude Award winner

Poema Arcanus
Stardust Solitude
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 04 July 2020, 12:21 AM

POEMA ARCANUS is a doom/death metal band from Chile. They formed in 1992 as GARBAGE but have been active since 1997 as POEMA ARCANVS.  “Stardust Solitude,” is their sixth full length album and their first since 2012. I’ve actually never heard them before this promo came to me—a damn shame too, assuming their previous albums are as good as this one.  Gothic doom was my first foray into doom metal as a whole so I’m always on the look out for solid representation in that style.  POEMA ARCANUS goes several steps above “solid” and completely knocks it out of the park. Their style is in the vein of MDB, PARADISE LOST, and even MOONSPELL but I’m happy to say they don’t really sound like any of those bands—without a doubt they have their own sound.  What I appreciate the most about “Stardust Solitude,” is, despite the heavy Gothic atmosphere, it is still very much riff based and often times centered on the bass guitar.

Another highlight for me is the tempo across the album.  Despite popular belief, doom metal doesn’t always have be plodding and slow; POEMA ARCANUS understand this and have injected a lot of mid tempo and groove into the songs.   The riffs retain that famous doom thickness and the bass remains massive but “Stardust Solitude,” is an album that proudly plays it balls out when needed. The album opens with the title track, a song that uses its nine minute length to make one hell of an opening statement and set the tone for the next seven tracks.  Darkly melodic tones start the track off, the music slowly growing louder and bolder as the atmosphere builds. A riff hits like a ten ton hammer, the death growls along for the impact.  Moya’s drums are loud and fluid plus the sound of his snare is crisp and clear. Diaz and Leiva lay down the doom laden groove I talked about earlier while Claudio’s deep cleans pierce through it all.  The middle portion of the song is a duel between the bass and the guitar on who can lay down the best riffs but both come out winners.  A melodic Gothic tinged movement comes after the doom jams, bridging the gap between the contrasting tempos and approach.

Haven,” is a different beast, one that consists of a much slower composition that melds in with Gothic melancholy .  The opening riffs are pure class, the perfect balance between traditional doom and depressed gloom.  The transitions between the cleans and death growls are effortless and it helps sell the catchy chorus.  There is always a sweet hook in these songs that grabs the listener but “Haven” exemplifies it the best. “The Lighthouse Keeper,” is a moody number with choppy bass and well timed drums keeping the song flowing and helping to accent the rage that rips in and out of the cleans as they touch upon growls before settling back down. The first minute and a half or so builds up tension and just as I felt the song was about to explode, it does.  Riffs and growls break open the song as the band goes into doom autopilot.  At this point, there is no question that POEMA ARCANUS know their doom craft well and “Stardust Solitude,” is quite the canvas they have painted upon.  Nothing proves this more than this song’s middle portion which is strangely beautiful in its darkness.

Kingdoms of Ruins,” is built around a dirty groove and sludge like bass that pulls the listener through the muck.  The vocals are all cleans but it works for the song, especially since they still drip with unmistakable venom.  The whole song does indeed evoke images of something that once had glory but is now lost below the ruins of the long forgotten past. The final track, “Brave,” is perhaps the densest and darkest of all the songs.  The bass lays down an ominous, encompassing layer for the clean guitar to pick its way through.  The drums begin to mix it all up in the background, until the entire song becomes an oppressive, the guitars and death growls forming a near impenetrable veil. The clean vocals go almost as low as the bass, keeping the feel of the track going but allowing room for the guitars and drums to push the song forward.

Considering this is my first experience with them, I have been highly impressed by “Stardust Solitude,” for it is an incredibly emotional, melancholy drench Gothic doom album that deserves a spot among the year’s best doom.  As their first album in years, it also serves as a comeback album for their old fans but will no doubt gain them even more new ones.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Stardust Solitude
2. Orphans
3. Haven
4. The Lighthouse Keeper
5. Straits of Devotion
6. Pilgrim
7. Kingdom of Ruins
8. Brave
Claudio Carrasco – Vocals
Juan Diaz – Bass Guitar
Igor Leiva – Guitar
Luis Moya – Drums
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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Edited 27 March 2023

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