• Arcana 13 – Danza Macabre

    Arcana 13 – Danza Macabre
    Released by: Aural Music
    Released on: March 11th, 2016.
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    If Goblin and Black Sabbath got together and had a really horrible orgy, the bastard offspring of that coupling of the damned could very well sound like Arcana 13, an Italian doom quartet that channel that which Ozzy and Tony and Bill and Geezer laid down, with thick and heavy doses of Claudio Simonetti’s soundtrack legends worked in for good measure. When you think about it, it’s a good fit. Italian horror movies have long held sway over the metal scene, and that influence runs deep with these guys as well, but in addition to just simply sampling things, they really do a great job of channeling the darkness that was inherent in a lot of those now classic soundtracks.

    Danza Macabra is the band’s new full-length album and it’s based around a selection of eight different horror pictures, chosen for very specific reasons. Made up of vocalist/guitarist Simone Bertozzi, guitarist/vocalist Andrea Burdisso, bassist Filippo Petrini and drummer Luigi Taroni these guys aren’t new to metal, each having paid their dues in years past. These guys, for a newer act, play like a well oiled machine. You’d think that this newer act had been playing together for decades, there’ that much polish, poise and technique here.

    The track opens with Dread Ritual, a seven minute crush of darkness where the aforementioned Sabbath influence runs very deep indeed. The guitars are tuned down but the vocals are slick, in tune, and even harmonic in spots. The samples help set an appropriately dark tone but once the band stats playing it almost seems unnecessary, the music speaks for itself. Throughout the record you get a bit of a Ghost B.C. sort of Satanic prog-metal vibe, but these guys take things in a very different direction from the Pope and his ghouls even if there’s definitely going to be some crossover appeal.

    ArcaneXIII is the second track, a heavier six minute dirge that builds off of the sound that the first track laid down in a big way, but it’s on Land Of Revenge, the third number on the album, that the band’s proggy, doomy sound really stakes off. There’s a great melody here, but at the same time it’ll get your fist pumping with a heavy psych influence. The psych influence goes even further once the beautifully titled Oblivion Mushroom begins, a swirling eight minute track that starts off slow, ominous and trippy before it builds slowly and very deliberately into a more aggressive number. It never gets too fast, instead quite content to keep the mid-tempo dirge going strong, but there’s some seriously chunky riffing going on in the middle of the track that lands this perfectly in ‘classic’ metal territory.

    From there, the band covers Goblin’s main theme from Suspiria, an instrumental bit from the film of the same name that they stretch out to just shy of seven minutes. It’s less keyboard intensive than the original, way heavier on the guitars, but they make it their own and they do a pretty damn good job of conjuring up the same sort of atmosphere of impending doom as the original track! Blackmaster starts off with some fuzz, a slick guitar solo of sorts and some crushing drum and bass work until we get a minute into this seven minute track. The vocals kick in, moving in the same sort of whirling tone as the instrumentation, creating a sort of occultish, sinister vibe while still showing a serious concentration on melody, and again, there are some eerie samples used here to create the right sort of Italo-horror feel.

    The album comes closer to its finish with the penultimate track, The Holy Cult Of Suicide, a six minute that again channels Sabbath with maybe some St. Vitus and Pentagram mixed in for good measure. This is pretty much a classic metal track, played completely straight with some impressive chops on the guitar front. Last but not least we get the seven minute closer, Hell Behind You. This is a fuzzy, heavy number that takes a more mellow, subdued approach. In fact, the first bit of the track is slow, deliberate and powerful but at the same time fairly calm. Until the unexpected but completely awesome shift in drum tone kicks in about half way through and things get nutty. It’s a great way to close the record, playing in the same vibe as the seven songs that came before but still taking the record in ever interesting directions.

    This is a solid album, the kind that should appeal to those with an interest in Sabbath style doom/stoner rock and Euro-cult horror soundtracks alike. Enzo Sciotti’s cover work is nothing to sneeze at either. Great stuff, a really impressive debut from a band to keep an eye on.