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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Review: Arcanum XII - Evening Lights

Arcanum XII, a new Italian star on the firmament, are here with their first album Evening Lights. They play a potentially interesting mix of prog with a lot of 80’s metal influences and a hefty dose of symphonic metal. The overall impression of the music is pretty good; the fat riffs are there, everything has a pretty nice tempo to go with it, in some places you could say it kicks ass... But for a debut album that has to break ground to get you noticed, Arcanum XII leaves a lot to be desired.

First of all, this album will just not play nicely into your ears due to the very weird and almost painful mix of the music. Everything falls flat with the mix, which is a shame because some of the most interesting parts you can imagine are actually pretty good, if only there would have been something done to make it so. The keyboards sound like a cheap MIDI file, the guitars have no punch behind them at all, the vocals are so loud that the music is drowned out. This alone pretty much disqualifies the album as something you would like to listen to, and you do not even have to be an auditory snob about it.

Onto the actual music, Arcanum XII do at sometimes definitely impress with their songwriting and personal skill. Though the guitars sometimes aspire to be more like the greats of symphonic metal in their endless searing solo’s and not really achieve that level yet, it’s not the blindlingly fast guitar wankery but the slow building phrases that actually are way more interesting to listen to. “Every day is the same day” has a beautifully crafted acoustic intro, and some more of the songs do not shine in their grandeur but specifically in these more introvert and soothing tones. For once, beside the mix being terrible, the sounds come together and something beautiful emerges. They can do both, though; the epicness is there in spades, it just never comes to full fruition due to the abysmal production.

The only letdown of the album for the rest is the lyric section, both in quality of the singer and the texts themselves. It sometimes shines through that these musicians are from Italy and the lines do not always run as smooth as they could have. The singer sometimes is very shrill and slightly of kilter, and apparently can’t do anything else than the high voice.

Arcanum XII’s debut leaves a lot to be desired, but the makings of interesting music are there. The Italians sure have potential but as of yet, Evening Lights has not yet succeeded in making a lasting impression.

Written by Frank van Drunen


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