ARCANUM SANCTUM-FIDUS ACHATES
There's more than a little Children of Bodom influence permeating
through the debut full-length album of Russian trio Arcanum Sanctum.
A primarily melodic death metal outfit spawned in 2004 by band leader
Vadim 'Sad' Nalivaiko as guitarist and ex vocalist Alexander Maltzev
(now of Requiem Aeternam) Arcanum Sanctum had early recording success
with their first demo a year after their inception then suffered a
string of setbacks leading up to the eventual release of this album
Neglectful and careless labels, the shelving of the first demo, member
departures and erratic prolonged recording sessions have all hindered
the growth and efforts of the band and even now two thirds of the act
credited on 'Fidus Achates' are done so as session musicians only.
At a sprinkling of seconds over half an hour in running time 'Fidus
Achates' gets out of the gate at a rapid clip with lead in track 'One
More Lie' (that's the English translation; aside from one track and two
instrumental pieces the compositions here are entitled and sung entirely
An oscillation of drums show the way to a flurry of up-tempo high end
melodo death riffing and then the vocals of mainman Sad erupt in a
shrieky raspy fashion that brings about the first of many ensuing
parallels with Children of Bodom.
The voice of the Arcanum Sanctum frontman rants and spits lyrics in
Russian (though it isn't blatantly obvious or immediately
distinguishable to tell any certain language merely by listening, only
the accompanying lyric sheet identifies the language source) and for all
the world has a style very akin to the earlier days of Alexi Laiho.
It isn't only the vocals that draws these comparisons with the Finnish
outfit but plenty of the guitar activity too, driven along at great
pace, inundated with technicality and melody and whilst it isn't exactly
a case of reinventing the wheel it is all done extremely well by
proficient musicians with a strong command on their instruments.
Soloing and demonstrations of lead break string acrobatics are out in
full force in here and though there's a perpetual machine like burst of
percussion carrying consistently throughout, the guitars undertake a
profusion of different journeys.
Consequential tracks 'Ghost Of War', 'Shadowed' (the one and only song
on the album with English lyrics) and the title track 'Fidus Achates'
all follow on a very similar trajectory; that is with high velocity
melody ridden guitar riffery, proliferations of lead displays, snarling
ragged vocals, thick surges of bass and constant machine gunning
'Ghost Of War' maintains a likeminded up tempo approach and stylistic
method as the opener but it is a little more restrained and tempered
while 'Shadowed' is a burlier brawnier prospect indeed.
with thrash metal patterns and harsher growls the English sung track
perhaps inadvertently reveals much more reverent Bodom worship with its
various lyrical references to 'the reaper' and 'the scythe upon your
There is a multitude of things brewed up in this composition from the
thrash elements to chunky rhythms through saturated melodies and high
ended wild frenzied caperings and while its true that hints of the
Gothenburg melodic death metal movement dance and skirt around the
fringes of the whole album it is bands such as the oft mentioned
Children of Bodom, early Norther, Kalmah even Ensiferum that Arcanum
Sanctum have more affinity with.
By the time we hit 'Moment of Death' however the blitzkrieg speeds
diminish somewhat, replaced by slower measured building chords and
ominous drums, meatier rhythms and a more prominent profile for the
Pace still becomes a factor as the track progresses but not to
the extent of the albums first half and vocally Sad verges more into
trad. death metal turf with gruffer exclamations and growls rumbling
over atmospheric axework.
In fact the whole latter part of the album exhibits Arcanum Sanctum in a
different light, showing there is a bit more depth and character to the
act than rampant aggression and uptempo shredding.
Short and sweet at two and a half minutes 'The Way To No Man's Land' is
a completely instrumental piece formed only of tranquil acoustic
guitar, drifting on gentle strummings and melodic pickings that are at
striking odds with the lightning speed rifferamas of previous songs, and
final track 'Outroduction' is in a similar vein.
Forlorn tune and usage of keys is the principal component in the outro
segment much like 'The Way to No Man's Land' (although no keys intruded
on the guitar during that number).
'Dreamkeeper' is the other track of the bunch that steers to some
degree outside the template of the albums first half beginning in an
atmospheric manner with chorus voicings and a procession of keys,
ultimately accompanied by moderate guitars and rhythm section.
parts it sounds almost akin to symphonic black metal though inevitably
the vast percentage of its composition becomes and maintains the Bodom
riffery and percussion punctuations.
'Fidus Achates' is not the type of album that is groundbreaking or
astoundingly new for it follows a very similar musical path which has
been well blazed by the various band names that have popped up during
the course of this review but in saying that it is carried off with
masterful execution by its protagonists, particularly band leader Sad.
It's a shame Arcanum Sanctum have been hamstrung and hobbled by an
assortment of mishaps along the way, otherwise they could have a solid
handful of recordings under their belt and the cultivation of a sound
all their own.