The Arcane Order Returns With Epic Danish Extreme Metal Album, Distortions From Cosmogony

Founded by Flemming C Lund in the ’00s to deliver epic, melodic Extreme Metal, the Danish outfit, The Arcane Order return with a much overdue follow-up to 2015’s Cult Of None with their fourth studio full-length, Distortions From Cosmogony. For anyone, including myself, who, at the mention of Danish Extreme Metal, expects a high-speed frontal assault of your senses, you won’t be disappointed.

The Arcane Order – Distortions From Cosmogony (Black Lion Records)

Release Date: 9 June 2023

Words: Jools Green

Distortions From Cosmogony punishes in all the right ways, but it goes far beyond that, weaving elements of Melodic Death Metal, making it very fluid and engaging, the subtle use of keyboards to create a dense epic melodic atmosphere, alongside a Thrash based brutality as well as aspects of Death, Black, Technical and Classic Metal, all delivered with Danish styling.

The Arcane Order - Distortions From Cosmogony - Danish Extreme Metal at its finest.
The Arcane Order – Distortions From Cosmogony.

Work originally started on this back in 2019, but between the pandemic and line-up changes, things have gotten a little held up. However, their latest line-up is an impressive one. Flemming covering rhythm and lead guitar, and Kasper Kirkegaard (Hatesphere) on rhythm guitar are joined by new vocalist Kim Song Sternkopf (Møl) along with Anders Frodo S. Mikkelsen on bass and new drummer Bastian Thusgaard (Soilwork), and they certainly can deliver.

Distortions From Cosmogony revolves around “the eternal existential struggle, between autonomy and submission, diving into the distortion and transition taking place, when humans project their incompleteness into the creation of gods and their counterparts, here on earth as well as beyond. Humans have always told stories about itself and the world, with cosmogonies carrying reward and punishment as the most archetypal narratives. The album asks the eternal questions about who we are, which narratives shape us, and if these will forever determine our species.”

This is a subject close to vocalist Kim Song Sternkopf’s heart as he grew up in an oppressive religious sect, and his subsequent loss of faith has led to a deep fascination with what leads us as humans drawn to hierarchies vs our deep desire for independence and the existence of free will.

After the eerie soundscape intro, Distortions From Cosmogony, a burst of drum work heralds the opening track Cry Of Olympus, about which vocalist Kim Song Sternkorpf says “is the first single from the album and probably the most progressive of the songs on the album. We purposely wanted to create a song that would work well as a first impression of the new album and a gateway into the rest of the songs on the album. Can man handle true power, or will it be his undoing? Cry of Olympus is as classical as a tale of hubris gets. A mortal challenging fate by aspiring to climb as high as one can get to fall just as far. Because all heroes can fail us. That’s what makes us human.”

It’s a hugely impactful number, dense, drum rich, the vocals, a mix of superb low growls, higher acerbic hisses and raw, cleaner, almost spoken words. Add to that the subtle symphonic feel from carefully applied keyboards and superb second-half leadwork, and you have a track that demands and gets your attention.

A Blinding Trust In Chosen Kings arrives as a driving wall of sound but becomes more melodic when the spiralling technical riffs kick in, and the impact from those vocals, especially the deeper ones, when they arrive is on another level. The second half, albeit briefly, pares back to show a more reflective side overall. A technically complex and brutally impressive piece that definitely hovers on the brink of epic.

Starvations For Elysium drives and pounds its way into existence, boasting a bleak undercurrent that persists even when the pace pares back, ebbing and building in repeated waves, and the second half leadwork is sublimely haunting. It’s a delightfully dark and crushing listen.

Favors For Significance arrives a little more subtly than its predecessors, gradually building with a very blackened undercurrent which sits so well with the vocals, elevated midway with an uplifting blast of leadwork followed by a dramatic drop away only to rebuild with haunting backing vocals, culminating in a brutal wall of driving riffs, pummelling drum work and searing vocals. I love the unnerving mood to this track and the sheer depth and texture of its content.

The First Deceiver has a hugely impactful start, the vocals and music rushing at you in a driving wave, smothering you in that huge wave of sound, then ebbing back dramatically, and there’s a sharp jangling edge to the guitars which adds impact to the repeating building waves of sound. I love the bounce to the bass work, and the second half leadwork rips its way through dramatically.

After the haunting instrumental interlude, Empedocles’ Dream, the dark, suspenseful builder, Ideals For Wretched Kingdoms arrives, maintaining the drama and atmosphere created by the previous pieces. Slightly more restrained than its predecessors but still packs an impactful punch, and the mid-point leadwork is pretty decent too.

Hold onto something firm before Children Of Erebos begins because the force it emits as it opens will knock you off your feet. A track that is intense and impactful from end to end. The brief pauses and drops allow no escape from this utter beast, and I love how the mid-point leadwork soars out of the midst of this with majestic beauty, a monstrously good track.

The final piece, Wings Of Duality, opens subtly, building with force behind a torrent of drum work. Another track with a hugely engaging dark undercurrent along with hypnotic repeat riffs, dramatically dropping briefly midway to make room for haunting backing vocals followed by a sublime burst of leadwork, and although it’s more linear than its predecessors, it still has a very epic quality.

Distortions From Cosmogony, like its predecessors, was recorded by Jacob Hansen (Aborted, Arch Enemy, Volbeat, Katatonia), with the legendary Jacob Bredahl (Lifesick, Eyes, Livløs) recording vocals.

It’s Danish melodic Extreme Death Metal done well.

Sleeve Notes

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