Arcane Existence – Colossus
Do you like hauntingly angelic singing and inhumanly dynamic gutturals, with melodic piano and ritualistically thunderous drums and rhythmic dark bass? If so, read on because that’s how Californian based band Arcane Existence describe themselves. That’s not a complete description though, because there is more to the band than that, all will become clear later.
The band offer up their second album for your delectation. “Colossus” is a journey through a mystical land following a cult’s quest to reach the Colossus castle. Each of the 13 songs take you through a different chapter of that journey. German fantasy artist Nele Diel captured the essence of the quest in his artwork for the album cover.
The line-up that recorded the album is not the current one. In August 2020 it was announced that Chris Zinannti would no longer be part of the band. Incoming at that time was bass shredder, Tracy Tanner from Devils in the Detail. Previously and for the album recording, multi-instrumentalist Kiera Pietrangelo played guitar and bass. She was the founder member of the band which started out as a solo project in 2016. She is now the sole guitarist in the band.
From the word go, the grandiose feel and scope of the music is apparent. Opening track ‘Mystic’ sweeps in majestically with heavy riffs riding over rippling piano and some operatic vocals. Following this are heavy sections with guttural vocals from Jade Ordonez, and softer parts with clean vocals from Becca McCabe. At the end of the song, we hear Becca playing her harp. It’s a quite beautiful mix of styles.
There’s a different feel to ‘Sovereign Blood’, more death metal. But hang on, here comes Becca again, slotting some operatic bursts in between the blast beats. There is also a guest guitar solo by Bobby Carroll (Cyborg Octopus and Raiju). This was the first video single to be released from the album.
Arcane Existence – Sovereign Blood (click here if the video does not play)
We must not forget the only gentleman in the band. Harley Blandford puts in a magnificent contribution on the drums in ‘Transmutation’. Towards the end of the track there’s some amazing fretboard shredding from Kiera followed by a calming piano fade out. The next track ‘Formation’ is the shortest track on the album at under two minutes long. They still manage to pack lots of variety in though. ‘Conclave’ starts in a complex and slightly chaotic fashion and later becomes bouncy, then melancholic with a strong finish.
Arcane Existence – Conclave (click here if the video does not play)
The story is told not only in the lyrics but also in the music. There are parts that sound like a film score, setting the scene and adding the appropriate ambience. The start of ‘Scroll of Augury’ is one such example. The video for ‘The Alter’ sees the first appearance of new bass player Tracy. It is elaborate and slightly tongue in cheek but fun to watch. It’s also a chance to see all the band and their instruments.
Arcane Existence – The Altar (click here if the video does not play)
This is followed by another short track with an accompanying video. ‘Enchantment’ starts mournfully but soon bursts out into a full-on metal workout. There’s a short break with the sound of a bell tolling, before returning to the heavy stuff and a brief mournful ending.
Arcane Existence – Enchantment (click here if the video does not play)
The quest continues through ‘Castle on the Hill’ (featuring another guitar solo from Bobby Carroll) and ‘Conducting the Scourge’ before arriving at the title track ‘Colossus’. Starting off with a bright hopeful sound, it turns into one of the heavier songs but with lighter melodic interludes. As the end of the album approaches, there are two short tracks to go. The first ‘Beneath Withered Stone’ is the heavier of the two. An ominous intro slowly increases in intensity before stopping abruptly. Then ‘A Light Between Realms’ concludes the journey. Being the only instrumental on the album, it definitely has the feel of a film score about it. It conveys the impression of a successful quest and a happy ending.
This is a great album from a talented group of ladies (and gentleman). It will be very interesting to see where they take this project in the future. It’s always nice to see the addition of slightly unusual instruments. The use of the harp along with the keyboards gives the whole thing a boost, making it more sophisticated. Because of this Arcane Existence stand out from the crowd.
They have also very kindly put up a full stream on YouTube
Arcane Existence – Colossus (Full Album Stream) (click here if the video does not play)
- Sovereign Blood
- Scroll of Augury
- The Altar
- Castle on the Hill
- Conducting the Scourge
- Beneath Withered Stone
- A Light Between Realms