Review: “The White EP” by Arkan Sawyer

Have you ever wondered what happened to your heroes? There will be more than a few who spare a thought for Arkansas Groove Metal act Wrought after the success of their 2005 self titled EP and debut album “Hand Crafted Metal” a year later. Opening for a wealth of their favourite bands their untimely demise came just as musically they were in their element, the financial leap from the local scene to national touring being too great. Proving that not all that wander are lost, after a decade in the wilderness, their former vocalist J. Hurley returned to what he knew and started a new project in 2022 with former guitarist Dan Robinson acting as an artistic producer. Experimenting with new vocal textures while leaning into synths and digital guitar tones Arkan Sawyer was birthed, citing Kenny Hickey from Type O Negative and Rob “Zombie” Cummings as influences…

…they say never judge a book by its cover and in the case of this debut EP from Arkan Sawyer they’d be right because while on the surface a record that includes a pair of covers might seem a little underwhelming, when you push play you realise that you might have been a little to quick to judge. While on the surface there are Stoner Doom Metal vibes with warm fuzzy guitar tones, underneath there is also a cold primitive lowkey almost industrial sound with flecks of Nu-Metal thrown in that shimmer in the polished concrete. Cracker cover “Low” feels like 2000’s Metal cut that would have appeared on a compilation album back in the day. Low and slow with the feel of a demo and yet fearfully addictive thanks to the vocal performance that finishes with some high quality *ahem* lows. After that demonstration of prowess “Cast the Chains Away” opens up the arteries with the first original material and stylistically follows suit, the Doom laden Industrial fuzz descending like a thick fog. The vocals and drums rise to the surface, punching through with a southern drawl in a fashion reminiscent of Ministry or White ZombieĀ but pushing that concept further into darker territory.

Kendrick Lamar cover “Swimming Pools” feels like was covered by “Felons And Revolutionaries” era Dope, with that layer of Industrial fuzz over the top of an unclean rap style vocal that takes us all the way back to the Nu-Metal era. What’s clever about it is that it’s done without losing any of the slow Stoner Doom Metal sound that makes makes it Arkan Sawyer. The chorus has been transformed so it has a dull ache to it that resonates and injects grit and intensity into the song before “Burn Your Boats” hits with a dirge laden main riff. Menacing and sinister with some almost Tribal drum sounds, Hurley impresses with his vocal range which moves from a mumble to an aggressive rap to a classic unclean in seamless fashion. It’s dark and dingy in that basement hell but there is something inviting about it. Johnathan Tegtmeyer of Higher ArkiesĀ provides lead guitars for “Someday“, a tale of the spiral of decay following a broken heart with a dark and brooding atmosphere that resonates with a sombre blues like feel. As a collection these songs fit together incredibly well and if someone gave you this and said it was the soundtrack to an arthouse movie you wouldn’t bat an eyelid… [7.5/10]

Track Listing

1. Low (Cracker cover)
2. Cast the Chains Away
3. Swimming Pools (Kendrick Lamar cover)
4. Burn Your Boats
5. Someday (ft. Johnathan Tegtmeyer of Higher Arkies)

The White EP” by Arkan Sawyer was released on 24th November 2023

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