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Way too good to be black metal, not quite heavy enough to death metal, it’s the melodic and melancholy Arquetipo from Chile’s Montuln.
Chilean metal hasn’t seen much evolution over the past 40 years as even the most well-known acts (still sadly seen as ‘underground’ acts on the global metal scene) still borrow heavily from 80s death, black, and thrash metal; Montuln, however, have at least made the effort to drag the scene into the next two decades with their first release proper.
The instruments are very ‘present’ and rely on strong musicianship rather than a wash of after effects, which immediately separates them from what you would expect for a band classing themselves as ‘black metal’. The vocals bite nicely and sit well between the speakers, occupying a good middle ground, which is a relief when there are so many vocalists that dominating the airwaves. The riffs are warm and scratchy, the drumming is well balanced and moves from intricate to intelligent regularly within the same track. Despite a pristine mix, the overall sound is a little thin and the panning of the bass seems a strange decision as it would have been of much more use in the centre to help thicken up the sound.
Meli Witran Mapu is a well-orchestrated instrumental halfway through the album, but considering the composition of the rest of the songs are on the same level, it seems like an unnecessary inclusion. Guñelve starts with a grungy alt-rock chord progression Billy Corgan or Greg Dulli would have put to good use and takes you back to the mid 90s, and the vocals and synths on Existencia are reminiscent of a peak Type O Negative. Final track Umbral deftly moves from ferocious black metal to trve metal to melodic metal. There is definitely a lot of talent on display, and after a few listens to the musical buffet that is Archetipo you get the feeling that this mish-mash of styles and genres isn’t a lack of direction but the band’s idea of strength.
The biggest imperfection is that the album suffers from tepid production where power has been sacrificed for finesse, and if you wish to split hairs, there are some guitar licks that could have done with a second take to ensure they fit properly mood wise with the rest of the song, but on the whole, even if this type of music isn’t your thing, it’s still well made and colourful enough to be an enjoyable experience worthy of exploration.
Release date: December 15th, 2020
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