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Arch of Hell - One day 4/5

Reviewed: 9-1-10


1. Rise to the victory
2. Utopia treasure
3. Black night
4. Only for one day
5. Fateful
6. (Sin)cere world
7. Romance of afterlife
8. One moment
9. Cry for the angel
10. Last path to oblivion

Arch of Hell is a symphonic death/power metal band from the Czech Republic and this is their debut studio CD. Most of the songs feature mid-paced to moderately fast-paced melodic metal with pervasive symphonic keys. The overall heaviness of the guitars along with the intricacy of the rhythms and leads give the music a melodic death metal feel, but there are frequent excursions into a more festive power metal style. A typical song will begin with a rocking, driving, intricate, somewhat cold, but still quite accessible guitar-driven melody and then transition into a warmer more festive melody with an atmosphere that is less driving but more epic and dramatically symphonic; indeed, it is not uncommon for a song to effortlessly glide back and forth between these styles several times, giving the arrangements a richly varied emotional texture. ‘One day’ is not relentless metal, however. It begins and ends with extended heavy acoustic chamber music songs, similar to Haggard, and the song “Only for one day“ is one of the most beautiful acoustic piano ballads I have ever heard.

The variety in emotional texture is all the more enhanced by the superb male and female vocals. Although there are occasional clean male vocals, especially in the acoustic passages, the predominant male vocals of Swarm are harsh somewhat shouted black vocals, but very rhythmic and catchy in their delivery. They especially add aggression and menace to the death metal passages and quite often are found missing on the more festive passages. On these passages the melody is often enhanced by the beautiful female vocals of Morticia; she sings with a soaring soprano style, with an extremely expressive delivery that is often nothing short of enchanting.

Arch of Hell have a superb sense of nuanced songwriting and this is appreciated more and more with repeated listens. If there is any criticism to be made of this CD, it can occasionally be a bit too indulgent in the instrumental passages; they have a nice progressive feel to them, but can cause the song to temporarily lose its momentum and focus. This is a minor complaint, however, and anyone who enjoys the modern blend of symphonic death, black and power metal of bands like Children of Bodom, Wintersun and Norther will find it done much better on this CD, and all the more enhanced with beautiful female vocals.




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