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Archaios - "The Distant" (CD)

Archaios - "The Distant" CD cover image

"The Distant" track listing:

1. Nightshade (6:13)
2. The Distant (4:54)
3. Gathering The Silence (5:53)
4. Legions (In Remembrance Of...) (4:30)
5. Dreaming With The Dead (7:50)
6. Until Lightning Strikes (4:05)
7. Approaching Of My Demise (6:45)
8. My Mourning (5:04)
9. The Joy Of Life (Bonus Track) (4:30)

Reviewed by on November 24, 2011

"It was a long road to get to this point, but Archaios can hold their heads high knowing that “The Distant” turned out as well as it did, notwithstanding production values."

Due to the political and economical climate over in the Dominican Republic, it’s a struggle for bands to get their music distributed in an international market. Archaios is one of the first bands from that area of the world to have an album released globally, and it took the band almost two decades to see that unfold. With its compelling melodic death metal sound, “The Distant” is an effective first taste of what Archaios has been working on for over five years.

Archaios went through a hellacious recording process with “The Distant,” having to stop and restart the production when funds ran out. Taking on a journey like this would have little reward if the final product was poor, but “The Distant” is nowhere near a failure. This is death metal with soul, a record that doesn’t throw melody under the disguise of a lame-duck interlude or some whispery female vocals. The use of acoustic guitars and keyboards is only in the most obvious of places, usually right at the cusp of a big finale or after minutes of the group slinging guitar leads like ice cream cones on a sultry July afternoon.

The guitar work could fill up an entire review on its own merit. Eric Cruz and JC Castillo astound with trade-off solos and riffs that could be deemed reckless in the hands of an amateur. Listening to so much music can made a person jaded when it comes to solos, but Cruz and Castillo find a way to have each one top the previous one. It’s like a 50-minute competition between the nine songs to find out how far the guitar can go, and it leads to stellar cuts like the progressive metal-ish instrumental bonus track “The Joy Of Life.”

“The Distant” gets through a mediocre production with clicky drums and muted guitars without much damage. It’s something the listener could probably get used to after a track or two, and the band does everything to keep one’s ears locked into the record. “Nightshade” is a six-minute death metal jam that throws its best stuff out of the gate, and the title track invests time in galloping melodies and ominous keyboards. “Until Lightning Strikes” and “Legions (In Remembrance Of...)” are stripped of melody and replaced by unfettered aggression.

Stepping away from the usual spat of death metal on the second half of “Approaching Of My Demise,” Archaios puts an emphasis on industrial noises and heavy synth. That, along with the brief acoustics and piano breakdown, is one of the more obscure songwriting choices from Archaios. While “Dreaming With The Dead” goes on for over seven-and-a-half minutes with its lengthy outro, it never gets away from its core style. Some may be turned off by “Approaching Of My Demise,” but it’s one of the best numbers on “The Distant” because of its uniqueness.

Having an inspiration story like Archaios’s makes a great album like “The Distant” all the more appealing. This is not a sleek release by a major label-backed act; this is raw, unpolished death metal by a band just looking to get their music out. No politics; no underlying monetary reasoning; just five guys from a part of the world where they are seen as the outcasts. It was a long road to get to this point, but Archaios can hold their heads high knowing that “The Distant” turned out as well as it did, notwithstanding production values.

Highs: Fantastic guitar work, melodic death metal with variety, band went through a ton of hardships to get to this point

Lows: Production isn't great, a few songs will sound familiar to fans of the genre.

Bottom line: A nice melodic death metal surprise that doesn't just sound like a sum of its influences or a result of some hair-brain conception.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)