Mysterious force Arkæon warp darkness, black metal power to their will with ravaging ‘Parasit’

When I was a kid, I had a strange habit of going outside at night and scaring the shit out of myself. We lived near thick woods and did not live on a heavily traveled street, so I always imagined the strange beings that could lurk and pull me away to some horrible fate. I am in therapy, by the way, in case you’re wondering. But there was a rush in that fear that I can’t quite place.

Weirdly, that aura returned for me when taking on “Parasit,” the debut offering from Arkæon, a strange Danish black metal force that claims a spiritual connection with other bands including Tongues, Muspellzheimr, Ærkenbrand, NVLVS, and Gespenst. This is distressing, relentless, and bizarre black metal that brings back that sense of unease I had as a kid as I waited in vain for whatever alien being was going to abduct me in pitch blackness. The band—bassist/vocalist Antonius, guitarist Zarnak, drummer/vocalist Nohr—plays games with your psyche and takes aim at humankind, itself a parasite that eats away at the world in which it lives, doing damage that very few feel an ounce of regret for causing. The worst thing that ever happened to the earth was us, and it’ll find a way to choke out our lights in the end.

“Skagerrak” starts with chilling power before the playing starts to leave blisters early, storming and scrambling brain signals. Disorientation spreads as things get stranger, then the growls crush, and the bass slithers through dirt, flaming the savagery and flowing into “Smertens Vilje” that immediately grabs a chokehold and confounds with its stirring guitar work. It feels like a star destroyer soaring overhead, feeling cold and destructive, frantic bursts stabbing out of corners into the dark. The playing is jerking and ferocious, melodies dart into your face, and the growls lurch, bowing to a torrid of noises.

The title track brings tangling guitars and rubbery melodies that make this slice of death complicated and nasty. Prog-fueled energy bombards as vile howls enter the fray and multiply the panic, zany power charges strike, and a storming flow smears to the finish. “Forbrænde” dabbles in weird noises and humid terror, twisting chunks of flesh and increasing the intensity as psychedelic torment hovers. A monstrous path is cut as the guitars swelter, and terrifying growls penetrate minds. The playing fries circuits, ripping out nerves with a crazed tempo that burns off in the universe. Closer “Evig Trods” runs 10:26 and fires up into a rampage, shrieks scarring, and psychic torture twisting the knobs. The playing is dizzying and gargantuan, splitting your skull down the center, the vocals snarling as piano drips and echoes. Throttling, beastly energy takes its toll as hell opens up and swallows you whole.

It’s pretty hard to argue against humanity being an utter scourge to this planet, and Arkæon hammer home this point on “Parasit.” This is a record that spans the globes of black metal and also works as a psychological dagger to your senses, leaving a massive wound that eats at you. This debut is a harsh, violent message to those of us poisoning this place that our time isn’t long, and at any point, we can be wiped away, the earth left to heal from our crimes.

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