Arkentype are difficult to describe. Hailing from southern Norway, they define themselves broadly as progressive metal, though rightly caution against any assumption or connotations this might imply. Nordic metal sets a clear base for their music, but they explore a load of different styles that make them impossible to pigeonhole. They are also, incidentally, about to head out on tour supporting Haken on all of their European shows. Well worth arriving early to check them out if you’re going.
Their first album, Disorientated, is a short one, but it covers a lot of musical ground. Comprising nine tracks, its songs are concise at mostly around four minutes or so each, but they manage to move seamlessly between genres and moods such that this still feels like a pretty complete work. The real talent that Arkentype possess is in the way they infuse their metal with orchestral beauty, theatrical quirks and electronica so skillfully that one barely notices the shifts.
The album’s orchestral introduction, Dear Erica, is rich and grand, yet with something quite personal and intimate about it. Ashes and Dirt, a video for which was released early on, then kicks straight off with some pretty intense music. The melodeath influence is evident immediately, though it is infused with more modern aspects – djent, metalcore, call it what you will. The song’s giant chorus is infectious, and little electronic sounds and glitches announce early on that this album is anything but run of the mill.
The next three songs – Welcome to My World, Who We Are and Time Collapse – continue along similar lines, with plenty of surprises thrown into the mix. Kevin Augestad’s impressive vocals range from fierce to soaring, and the music jumps fluently between crunching riffs, atmospheric splendour, and dark theatrics. Each song is a mini epic of sorts, and there is even the occasional musical reprise thrown in for good measure.
Arkentype then begin to move away from the subtler infusions and genre-shifting that permeate the first half of the album. Ignorant Child starts unashamedly like some sort of hellish Burlesque, and the dark stylings stay present throughout. Akire, in stark contrast, is a huge electronic and ambient piece, with occasional trance and dubstep influences. It is based again on themes first introduced in the opening track, and elegantly reprises the chorus from Ashes and Dirt. It is luscious, warm, and a welcome respite from the crazy ferocity present throughout most of the album.
In Epiphany, more electronic stylings start off but lead quickly back into metal territory. The chuggy riffs are enjoyable, but the song is largely unmemorable bar some brief quirks at the end that lead into the closing title track. The piano and choral introductions to Disorientated are epic and beautiful – the song is huge in sound, but sadly far too short. This could have been the start of an incredibly grand finale, but as it is, the album ends a little suddenly, suggesting more but not quite delivering.
It’s a shame that the album fizzles out a little towards the end, but overall this is a fantastic, fresh and totally bonkers debut. The production is top notch, and performances are slick all round (vocalist Augestad is joined by Kjetil Hallaråker on bass, Simen Handeland on guitar and Simen Sandnes on drums).
Arkentype are undoubtedly at their best when embracing a range of genres and incorporating them superbly into their brand of intense metal. If they continue to push this side of their music, and take a bit of time to develop some of their ideas more fully, they will become a serious force to be reckoned with.