Review: “Sgrios” by Artach

“Not a ton of Black Metal bands will have Rammstein-esque synth guitar sounds, tremolo-picked riffs, and harsh black metal vocals. We talked about doing this “industrial-styled” 4 song EP to keep active and experiment ahead of the release of our 3rd full-length in the fall of 2024. At first, we thought about calling it a different project name, but quickly realized we could and would make it close enough to the Artach style to keep the name. You will hear industrial metal through the Artach blackened-thrash lens.” ~ Sruthán (Guitar/Bass).

There is no denying that variety is the spice of life and so while Artach have been pigeonholed as simply Industrial Black Metal, those three words aren’t anywhere near enough to cover the multitude of sins despite being the building blocks of their sound. The question is, what happens when you remove one of those building blocks? Does the tower come crashing down like you’re playing a giant game of Jenga? The answer is written in between the lines of ‘Sgrios” (which translates to English as destroy, ruin, ravage, annihilate) as for the most part the Black Metal has been cut out of the heart of these four songs. Instead what holds this material together and defines it as Artach is the unmistakeable spew of Fíochmhar who explores the destructive power of technology alongside apocalyptic themes as he trudges the frozen industrial wasteland of Newfoundland. Ultimately what that means is while these songs are all original works, the record has the feel of a covers album. The influences literally bleed through the bandages from start to finish and while that might not necessarily appeal to a diehard fan, it offers a unique insight into the inspirations behind Artach with an eclectic and eccentric charm.

Without putting to finer point on it, opening cut “Frozen Factory” sounds like it could have been a Fear Factory demo with its mechanised riffing a real tribute to Dino Cazares. Fuelled by pummelling percussion but the caustic, hellish vocals from Fíochmhar are a whole new realm of pain. Freer feeling and warmer than some of the Cyber Metal acts earlier works, underneath it all this one is distinctively Artach, the masterful vocal layering bordering on an insight into a schizophrenics mind. By far the greatest surprise of that one is the flamboyant extended solo, an absolute facemelter which feels like it has been stolen from a Wizard who lives to show off at NAMM.

An anthem to anarchy, “The Black Hole” takes an entirely different path, feeling like Ministry playing an Iggy Pop cover, with a heart of Punk Rock buried underneath the surface. Hell, there is actually a point where the duo sound like they’re going to burst into “Pretty Vacant” by The Sex Pistols. However it’s not stripped back or bare so there is an ocean of nuance with industrial sounds to keep the discerning listener on their toes, including what sounds like missiles screaming out of their silos. Returning to the heavier style of the opening cut for “Super-Cybernetic“, Sruthán injecting some power as Fíochmhar roars about robot beings over Blackened Thrash riffs. A melodic bridge is a touch of class that allows for an almost spoken word, the tongue in cheek humour of the lyrical narrative a throwback to 80’s Science Fiction films. That style bleeds into “Atomic Cabaret” which speaks of radiation poisoned zombies in a dance macabre like no other, the synths adding a tip of the hat to John Carpenter which is a nice touch [7/10]

Track Listing

1. Frozen Factory
2. The Black Hole
3. Super-Cybernetic
4. Atomic Cabaret

Sgrios” by Artach is out 6th July 2024 and is available over at bandcamp.

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