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Arctic Sleep : Arbors (Re-release)

If you're a fan of bands that are tough to classify, Arctic Sleep might be for you.

Melody is the keyword when it comes to Arctic Sleep, particularly with their 2012 album, 'Arbors'. This band has garnered a small cult following in the Doom world, particularly with this album, and the reasons for this are immediately evident. No one quite sounds like Arctic Sleep, and though elements of Doom permeate the entirety of their approach, they're just barely clinging on to this label. In this reviewer's opinion, they're Doom musicians playing rock in the same way certain classically trained musicians play Prog.

Whether it be in the vocals, riffs, or leads, the natural minor scale is the home turf of this album. Though the arrangements are heavy, complete with densely distorted, chugging rhythm guitars, they always provide a bed for beautiful instances of melody to come through. Most noticeable are the vocals, which are lush, crisp, and quite catchy—an unusual attribute in this scene of music because I would usually use the word “catchy” to describe radio-friendly songs—and though there aren't many vocal harmonies on 'Arbors', the single-part vocals carry themselves fully, doing fine without the extra notes behind them to fill out the arrangement. This feat is an accomplishment of minimalism, a key attribute that still gives 'Arbors' that Doom-feel—other than the slower-than-average tempos and minor key composition.

In addition to the vocals, the album's melody-intensive focus is heard with its soaring guitar leads, smooth bass grooves, and the occasional clean rhythm guitar or cello. While most of 'Arbors' is focused on the barebones arrangement of guitar, drums, and vocals, these other components of the arrangement are sparsely dispersed throughout, and with this treatment they do a good job of adding variety to the unvaried tone and feel of the album. While every song is distinct, almost every song also seems to have the same vibe, and these embellishments in the arrangement help propel the album to the end without the tracks losing their momentum.

While much can be said for the complexity of the melodies on 'Arbors', the album does seem to be lacking rhythmically. This could be helped with more interesting drum work. None of the beats are boring, but many of them aren't as "explosive" sounding as the songs which they accompany. There's a nice percussion track titled, 'Timber', filled with rhythmic depth: why couldn't the beats on some of the songs involving the full band be given a similar treatment? For such fast-paced Doom, I think some more intense and chaotic fills would be in order. But, regardless, 'Arbors' is an above average album. If you're a fan of bands that are tough to classify, Arctic Sleep might be for you.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Avenue Of The Giants
2. Geneva
3. Black Moth
4. Athena's Pond
5. Pine Mountain
6. Timber
7. Valley Of Poison
8. Sea Of Origins
9. Wolf Nature
10. Release The River

Duration : Approx. 53 minutes

Visit the Arctic Sleep bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-06-13 by Alex Drozd
Aesthetic Death
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