Arkaik _Lucid DawnOne of the longer-running bands in the seemingly boundless Southern California tech-death scene, Arkaik are coming up on ten years now, with Lucid Dawn as their fourth full-length in eight years. Stalwarts of the Unique Leader brutal/tech-death style, the band have proven themselves capable and comfortable in cranking out discs of death that worship The Faceless and early Obscura without being obvious derivatives or daring expansions on the genre. If you’re a fan of the late-2000s tech-death explosion that spawned such scene darlings as Fallujah and Rings of SaturnLucid Dawn will be a welcome addition to your colossal collection of UL- and Sumerian-tagged CDs.

After a bit of warming up, Lucid Dawn gets started with the riffy and groove-heavy “Digital Shroud,” which takes a break late in the song to showcase Arkaik‘s rhythm section. Ivan Munguia steals the show with a jazzy bass solo against some of the album’s more creative drumming, which drummer Alex Hernandez-Bent takes a swing at again in an extended fill a few seconds later. “That Which Lies Hidden” continues on the straight and narrow of modern death, with extended mid-paced grooves and harmonized riffing that sound like any band you’d care to name.

“Fleshwalkers” takes a slight detour, featuring an intro vaguely similar to The Black Dahlia Murder‘s “Receipt” and an outro with a definite Opeth-ian vibe, but the song sandwiched in between them has as little to do with either as they do with each other and comes off as a hasty patch between two of the band’s more interesting ideas. Though its brief drum solo again gives percussion a moment alone, the sanitized production of the album, courtesy of Zack Ohren, glosses over the subtlety and warmth that make a drums fun to listen to, and the brevity of these little spills are matched only by their predictability.

Arkaik_2015

Ludid Dawn‘s mid-paced riffing and rock beats may set it apart from the band’s blast-heavy peers but they drain any sense of drama or tension that the band tries to create, especially in the lethargic “Temple Aflame,” which only deigns to close the album after ten minutes of otiose crackling and voice samples. Arkaik‘s vocals aren’t anything to write home about either; it’s not so much Jared Christianson’s reliance on a mid-scream or shout that irritates me – many vocalists don’t do much with their range, and screaming is tough to do – but his lyrics and vocal patterning are about as standard as they come. There are plenty of way less diverse singers – reducto ad absurdum leads us to Jens Kidman – that just put so much more personality into their recordings. Add that to the monotonous loudness you expect from this band and you get a pretty unsuccessful package.

Lucid Dawn comes with its share of decent riffage by competent performers, but lacks personality and blends easily into its overcrowded scene. It’s written, produced, and advertised almost indistinguishably from half of the other technical death metal that slides across my desk, and I’m happy to hear the whooshing sound it makes as it passes me by. I honestly hate writing this same review every month and I really wish people that are this good at playing death metal would try to cover some different ground, but it’s futile to ask for innovation from every release. If you’re content with the sound that ArkaikThe Kennedy VeilDeeds of FleshEschatonInanimate Existence and so many others put their own minimal spin on, you’ll enjoy this album until the next one comes along.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: facebook.com/arkaik
Releases Worldwide: October 30th, 2015

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  • You wot m8?

    Regardless of the flaws of this album, this cover art is gorgeous.

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      Obzen meets knockoff magic the gatheirng art and that awful logo treatment, I give it a 2/5 personally

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        My response is way more dickish than I remember writing it earlier today.

        • Thatguy

          But true enough……

      • Kronos

        This is uncannily accurate.

    • Kronos

      It’s got spheres!

      • speaking of spheres and your website’s obsession with pointing them out (which I love, it’s freaking funny), I personally cannot wait to see a review of the new Born of Osiris album, “Secret Sphere.” I expect a separate score for cover art.

        • Kronos

          This has more comic potential than a Jorn/White Wizzard split.

  • Hammersmith

    This is disappointing to see, I enjoyed their last release.

    • Kronos

      You’ll probably like this one as well, then.

      • Hammersmith

        I will most likely get more mileage out of this than you, but a good review nonetheless. Thanks!

  • Thatguy

    Ah, Kronos, you had to get in the dig at Fallujah by putting them and Rings of Saturn in the same sentence, didn’t you?

    However, I agree this album is dreck – 2.0 at most.

    • Garak

      Dingir is better than The Flesh Prevails.

      • Thatguy

        You are dreaming…but I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

      • Kronos

        Not better than the dynamic version that no one will ever get to hear. But better than clipping mp3s for sure.

    • Kronos

      I really do like Fallujah, but their production decisions are not the ones I would have made. That being said, a lot of their riffing style is very similar to other bands in UL’s niche. Make of it what you will.

      • Thatguy

        OK.

        Feud over. We both agree we like Fallujah and can agree to differ on how much their production matters.

        I agree there are similarities in overall style, but I can’t bear Rings of Saturn – too wanky.

  • Kronos

    Can’t be unseen: the background of the cover is pieces of toast spread across the space like an internet explorer error dialog.

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      OMG yes

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I feel like I have listened to this album before, just through listening to other tech-death releases. Nothing interesting here, must have been a slog to get through. Just amuses me how there was a time where this level of technicality was mind-blowing. Great review dude

  • I liked the dirtier, more “brutal” approach on their Reflection within Dissonance album…since then, the band has had sounded safe to me. I still find a lot to like about this style, later day Deeds is great stuff, Inanimate Existence is outstanding, and Omnihility too….I think I like all three of those because they do all put their stamp on the style, at least in my mind they do. But a lot of it is par for the course, at first listen that’s what we seem to get with Arkaik…makes me sad because when it hits me right it can be some of the most fun metal to me! So I identify with this review 100%