Monday, February 13, 2012

Arke - Shatner (EP) (2012)

Groove metal four piece Arke has a good grip on what it takes to make some booming tracks. With musical influences ranging from Black Sabbath to Dinosaur Jr., Deftones to "your dad," this collective are not short on talent or humor. With the release of their new EP, titled "Shatner" and graced with a picture of the spoken word genius, this Manchester, UK based band are sure to confuse, confound and impress you with 23 minutes of arching vocals and various groove oriented riffs. Time to boldly go...

The opening riffs on the title track, "Shatner," are some of the most catchy we have heard to date. Every step on the kick drum pedal pulses through your speakers with a resounding thud. Combining the "widdly guitars" of frontman Taz Dirania with the "strummy guitars" of Craig Ross, you have a two headed monster to contend with. The rhythm section is as tight as it is punchy, towing the line from start to finish.With a grit and distortion level that rivals late era grunge, this opener is a freight train of momentum. Throw in some raspy, but melodic vocals and and everything comes together in a beautiful harmony. The more simplistic, but equally rocking "Seething" is refreshingly so. The riffs aren't crazy, but each note finds the perfect home. The devastating low end remains, padding the way for those same vocals. The rhythm guitars are comprised of repeated notes, up and down the scales, topped with some lead passages that are sure to get you moving. The choreographed stop/start patterns are the perfect place for a swing of the hair, or a bob of the head. This is the style of music made for a live setting.

Without belaboring the point, the grunge sound that emanates through "Reward" is hard to miss, but mixed in the proper proportions with more modern metal sensibilities, it creates a sound that is so unique, even if familiar. The heavy downstrokes on the drums keep the constant pounding in your head, each snare and cymbal carrying tremendous weight in the mix. The aforementioned groove is as strong as ever, particularly in the vocal realm, with Dirania showing off his pipes in a low register harmony. The hard and fast outro portion, complete with ripping solo work, is the perfect means to an end, driving into the final track. And fittingly, "Excitor" is the crowd pleaser, giving every listener the chance to growl along in the chorus. Again, the rhythm section shines through it all, surgically precise and equally aggressive. The drums alone are relentless, always busy, always pressing forward. The solo is bluesy, without losing the hard edge. There is something to be said about the soul that pours through every note. The impending breakdown comes, complete with group dynamics and the opportunity to shot "yeah" one last time.

With the EP returning as a viable showcase form up and coming artists, Arke make the most of a short run time to display what they have in their arsenal. Encompassed in these four tracks are elements of so many different subgenres of metal, from prog to sludge and back again. But tying them all together is a constant groove, a common thread throughout each song that keeps your head moving. They make metal that is bruising at times, but always catchy, always lodging itself in your brain one riff at a time. And with "Shatner," they may become part of your consciousness, like the Canadian superstar who shares it's name.


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