Arkuum – Die Letzte Agonie (2018) – Review

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Ah, the famed theme of death, and of dying things in general. Much ink was spilt already on the fundamental truths of everybody’s life over the last centuries. That we are going to die is one of them. One day. No matter what, it’s going to happen.

In actual fact, we all try not to die and survive for yet another day since we were born. And as long as we possibly can, which is kind of a frightening prospect, come to think of it. And much more ink will be wasted until science finally finds the famed fountain of immortality. But then again, this may not be very good for humankind either.

So, some scientists and self-proclaimed specialists set about studying the process of dying, and the grief associated with it. This ranges from somewhat surreal after-life theories to the famed five stages of dying (or grief) that Kübler-Ross concocted some time ago. 

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This is what the former army of one Arkuum and the latest full-length album Die Letzte Agonie depict. One David Theobald aka Arkas started this band in 2013, followed by their first album Trostlos not long thereafter in 2015. Now, three years later the band sprouted a full crew. And this – supposedly – for live performances only, but we will see. Fact is that the sound matured with more participants in this very specific project.

Die Letzte Agonie delivers a doom-laden, tear-wrenching piece of Doom Black and – for sure – Atmospheric Black Metal combined. The jury is still out, though, if this rainstorm of tears and sorrow will equal or surpass the emotional roller coaster The Reticent was able to depict in 2016. Kind of to get to the #1 spot of heartache and pain. But more to that later.

For sure, the record freely tastes from the softer flesh of Dodecahedron’s Kwintessens with some savvy and rather heavy currents coming straight from Ashbringer’s Yügen, Zeit, and a trifle SojournerIn line with the more corny specimens of the aforementioned bands, you find yourself in a bleak wasteland of desperation and refused forlorn desires. Decadent, huh? But this actually is in line with the theme and one of the main strengths of Die Letzte Agonie

Arkuum‘s – at times – ambient, but mostly atmo-leaning style with some pseudo-progressive elements draws this decidedly powerful picture of psychological torture and emotion. And this against a backdrop of tracks between 8 and 11 minutes top. This – in itself – is one of the positives, as the difficulty to keep interest levels up increases, the longer a track lasts. Arkuum astutely sailed about this reef with a lot of gusto. Even if Zorn noodles about the soundscape a tad too long and right at the edge of them terrible cliffs of doom.

Then take the lyrics: A pity that they are delivered in this typical Black Metal rasp. Arkuum put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into a blackened, yet spicy heap of words. You will get a beautifully fleshed-out story; once you consult the written version. But only if you speak German, that is. So, spoiler alert – there you go. Take that from the complication department.

As finality draws nearer, Die Letzte Agonie injects (a not-so) subtle progression into the fray. This makes up for the somewhat watery mainstream you get served in Verleugnung and redeems the listener as of – say – mid-point in Handel. Verzweiflung really lets loose, full steam ahead in a sea of woes. This presents some sort of a mixture of a dramatically burlesque version of Myrkur-esque shenanigans without the female and Todtelichter. And all of that in a somewhat muggy shot of stark contrasts, wailing women and all.

So, how bad is the mainstream in all this?

The sum of all parts of Die Letzte Agonie presents a unique flavor. The previously cited influences only cement the fact that Arkuum did not invent anything new for this record. But then to be fair, not many bands do that these days. The band however took the elements best fitting for their project and manufactured their own piece of work. The Black Metal on this record depicts the theme well. In fact to a point where you have to be in the mood for such dreary offerings. Or you risk drowning in all this sorrow flowing out of your loudspeakers.

And will the record dethrone the masters of emotion in the metal multiverse? No, probably not. But this in no way diminishes the obvious qualities Die Letzte Agonie undoubtedly depicts.

So, If you are an adept of Doom Black Metal or – again – Atmospheric Black Metal, then this one is for you. Consume without moderation.

Ed’s note: And congrats! The album made it onto the Intermittent Digest – Tome VIII and the famed 2018 Top 10.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook
Release date: 4 August 2018

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