Album Review: Coffin Storm – Arcana Rising

Album Review: Coffin Storm - Arcana Rising
Reviewed by Jon Wigg

When you hear that members of two of your favourite thrash bands (Aura Noir and Infernö), who also released some amazing doom metal together a while back (Lamented Souls), have an album full of more traditional metal on the horizon, excitement rises.

Now add in a member of a legendary Norwegian Black Metal band who released your album of the year in 2022 (Astral Fortress by Darkthrone) and surely you must have something special right?

Oh yes! With the line-up of Apollyon (Aura Noir/Lamented Souls), Bestial Tormentor (Infernö/Lamented Souls) and Darkthrone’s Fenriz on vocal duties, Coffin Storm have produced an early contender for album of 2024 in Arcana Rising.

From the first few chords of opener ‘Over Frozen Moors’, you know which country this comes from. Norway drips from every riff, every note and every vocal. The main riff has an amazing slowed-down thrash crunch which certainly resonates with me and this is present throughout the record. The doom undertones are still there especially in an ending which is almost funereal and a great pace change from the rest of the track.

Like with so many bands, the vocals can divide and I imagine this will be the case with those provided by Fenriz here. I love the wailing quality he demonstrates on Arcana Rising, and on his solo project Isengard, and they fit in really well with the music.

Album Review: Coffin Storm - Arcana Rising

Given the constituent members of Coffin Storm, you would expect doom, thrash and black metal to be at the fore on this slab. While these are all present, this is more of a traditional metal album, a throwback to times past when bands took those Black Sabbath riffs, added in some NWOBHM and made them their own.

There isn’t a lot of pace across Arcana Rising, but the heaviness more than makes up for that, with the tracks always driving forward using the aforementioned thrash crunch in many of the riffs.

There’s a lot of music here - about 45 minutes in the 6 tracks - so be prepared for long songs. Indeed the shortest track is ‘Over Frozen Moors’ which clocks in at a smidge over 6 minutes although for me, none overstayed their welcome.

The title track is the most doomy one here, with a real Candlemass feel, and a lovely increase in tempo in the middle section. Laid back and covered in atmosphere, it’s definitely a highlight especially the spoken word section.

‘Open The Gallows’ is the longest track at just over 10 minutes but it absolutely flies by. After a grandiose opening, the riff settles down into a mid-pace rhythm which will have your head nodding along, and the vocals from Fenriz adding a ghostly quality. There are some great solo passages through the centre of the song. A nice key change mixes things up towards the end and overall this is a wonderful example of how good these 3 are at making epic heavy metal.

‘Eighty-Five and Seven Miles’ kicks off with more doomy loveliness and some astonishing secondary riffs coming in over the top of the main stomp. The slow thrashy crunch returns through the middle section and this then alternates with the slower passages for the rest of the song.

‘Ceaseless Abandon’ sounded very familiar to me. The band cites early Metallica as an influence and you can really hear it on this one. Whereas on ‘Kill ‘Em All’, the Bay Area legends took the influence from their NWOBHM predecessors and speeded things up, this track sounds like a track from ‘Kill ‘Em All’ slowed right down. The riffs and embellishments are all there. Add in some sensational drum work particularly during the faster solo section, and Fenriz’s unique vocals, this is another superb song.

Closer ‘Clockwork Cult’ stomps along in similar vein to the rest of the album before an amazing slow down with a riff that reminded me of the lower tempo Slayer tracks from South of Heaven.

Overall this album has hit me like a large brick wrapped in flyers for gigs from the 1980’s. Given the constituent members, I shouldn’t have been surprised, and this is certainly a record I will be playing a lot going forward.

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