This is Swedish melodic black metal that exists within a post-black metal framework, with the latter allowing the former a broader range than it usually benefits from. Wormwood’s music has an epic streak, an atmospheric proclivity, and a good grasp of emotion and depth. Arkivet is a mix of the classic and the contemporary, and the band have balanced these influences very well to produce an evocative and compelling album.
I like the fact that there is no pointless intro here. Instead, you’re straight into the action, and the fluid melodic skill of Wormwood is immediately apparent. The leads are infectious and catchy; Wormwood are one of those bands whose melodic abilities stick with you quite quickly as you get to know their work. It’s not just the guitar leads though; Wormwood excel at writing songs that burrow into your brain with sharp atmospheric talons.
Softer, introspective, or atmospheric moments appear, revealing some classic rock and folk influences. You can also hear this aspect of Wormwood in other areas, such as in some of the guitar solos. The band are just as skilled at these non-blackened elements as they are with the rest of the material, and I easily enjoy both well-integrated sides of the music. Keyboards and clean vocals add layers of feeling and emotive highlights to the songs where they’re needed too, further adding to the extensive toolbox that Wormwood have access to on Arkivet.
The lead vocals are a mixture of jagged rasps and deeper roars, although other styles appear. Both main styles suit the music very well, and they are made even stronger by a good synergy with the rest of the musical components.
This is music that’s more affecting than your normal run-of-the-mill black metal. These songs channel emotion into atmospheric apocalypse-themed worldbuilding, crafting soundscapes that draw you in and keep you there, absorbed in Wormwood’s impressive creation.
Wormwood’s ability to blend old and new facets of black metal, with parts of folk/neofolk, and generous helpings of classic, progressive, and psychedelic rock mean that Arkivet is a very strong, very enjoyable piece of work.
Very highly recommended.