Arkaik – Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts (Review)

Arkaik - Labyrinth of Hungry GhostsThis is the sixth album from US death metallers Arkaik.

Back now with a new lineup, (featuring current and ex-members of Singularity, Alterbeast, Dessiderium, and Nullingroots), Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts boasts 48 minutes of new material. Both 2015’s Lucid Dawn and 2017’s Nemethia were very likeable records, so Arkaik’s new one carries a certain level of expectation. Spoiler alert – it’s been exceeded.

The band positively explode out of the speakers with a crisp, powerful sound designed to knock over buildings. Despite having a potent technical base that’s augmented by expressive progressive influences, Arkaik know how to unleash the heavy. The band demonstrate a creative approach to this heaviness, and Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts sounds fresh and, well, hungry.

The songs are well-written and almost seem to glow with pride at the results of their precisely applied brutality. The riffs are plentiful and the shredding solos many. The drums are impeccably played and the singer’s death growls are a wonderous thing to behold. There is a good balance between blast and groove, and the musical dynamics of the band seem better than I recall, with solid transitions, build ups, and well-judged eruptions of energy. It seems that the injection of new members has only improved the core of what Arkaik do, and these new tracks have benefitted greatly from their input.

Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts is an intelligently-crafted album that has plenty of good ideas. It has studied its application of brutality and heaviness well, yet still manages to impress with its passionate savagery and violence. Alongside this sit the progressive and atmospheric influences, which work with the aggression to become greater than the sum of their parts.

Is Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts my favourite Arkaik album so far? Yes. Yes it is. It’s absolutely immense, devastatingly crushing, and keeps you coming back for more by virtue of its strong songwriting and delivery. What more could you ask for?

Don’t miss out on this. Essential listening for fans of modern death metal.

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