Metal bands from the Steel City otherwise known as Sheffield have a reputation to uphold. Following in the footsteps of Malevolence in taking the UK Underground Metal Scene by the scruff of the neck and delivering it a savage beating are Arkdown. The five piece “Steel City Riff Beast” have created a name for themselves by drawing on their influences to create a sound that bridges the gap between Metalcore and Deathcore while adding flourishes of Death Metal to forge their swords and craft their songs from. Having given away their 2016 debut EP “Paths” for free via bandcamp and then followed it up with 2017 standalone single “In Torment”, the feeling very much is that with this release it should be Arkdown’s time to shine.
After a 10 second atmospheric build, the opening guitars and drums of “Wake Up” kick in. Kyle Dawson’s vocals then punch through the atmospherics with a dry, gravelly tone that cuts like broken glass. Lyrically the song is one of positivity, a call to arms to wake up when you feel like you can no longer go on. The lead flourishes lift everything despite a muddier mix on the drum sound that makes some of the fills sound a little flat. The pre-chorus guitar drop off for a melodic break and post-chorus use of icy synths to build darkness are moments that really showcase the bands musicianship and song writing skills. “It Calls Me” uses the same lead progression style and tone with the guitar work to highlight the rhythm parts and a tasteful pick slide and “Blegh!” are a nice surprise. The dark atmospheric and swirling riffs add some increased technicality while keeping a very tight groove. Drummer Alex Roberts demonstrates some more skill on this cut which is less effected by the sound mixing than the opening tune. The chorus of “Mirrors” is surprising reminiscent of early In Flames work. Laying down plenty of early groove guitar work before hand the initial burst of chorus actually comes as something of a surprise. Again the synths are buried in the mix and are an element that adds more life and flesh to the bone on repeated listens. The classic Metalcore guitar sound also has something of the Gothenburg sound about it while the vocals are less cutting than the earlier tracks and simply carry significant weight.
“Five Years” takes a step the left with the vocals and introduces a dark whisper while again bringing back the “Blegh!” post-chorus. There is a real intensity to the wrath filled lyrics which is underpinned by a cauldron of melodic lead guitar work that is sublime. “Falling” is the opposite of the call to arms of the EP’s opener “Wake Up” from the lyrical side with no positivity at all. After a classy haunting melodic intro, the attempt at a vocal variation falls flat. For want of a better description, a buried scream whisper where a clean vocal or spoken word would be better suited sounds strange at best and cringe worthy at worst. That being said, the rest of the track holds up well with some glorious technical lead guitar work giving everything a real reverence. [6/10]
It Calls Me
“The Calling” by Arkdown is out now and available over at bandcamp.