Any band with its own identity is one that has really tried to stand out from the massive crowd that is always something to behold when it’s done successfully. Particularly with black metal, if you can achieve a sound that you can claim as your own that doesn’t lean heavily on the tried and true style of other acts then you’ve made something that many will flock towards, deny, and become entranced by in equal numbers. When I first came upon Alkuharmonian Kantaja with their immensely dense debut album, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at first, I wasn’t a fan of what they were putting down. But after wandering these dark, shifting halls for some time, I can’t help but find myself in some sort of awe at what it delivers.
Other than having the sort of name that you have to squint at before you’re able to get it half-right, it is absolutely immediately that Alkuharmonian Kantaja throws the listener into its sonic maze that is not nearly as impenetrable or hostile as what we’d normally expect from something like Full of Hell, but this is not an easy album to get into. Truly, the word “dense” is all but too fitting for “Shadowy Peripherals” with every minute of these seven tracks being unique to the record at large with Alkuharmonian Kantaja really going out of their way to make sure that they rarely, if ever, retread the same ground in order to not only keep the listener guessing, but to add onto their already-mystifying labyrinth that’s filled with horrors, wonders, and everything in between. It’s the vocals that put me off at first as they are certainly distinct, they felt like they were going for an unnerving essence at first, but the more that I listened to them and all that they brought to the table in all of its many forms, I couldn’t think of a more fitting narrator for all that’s held within “Shadowy Peripherals” with how they in equal parts are able to get under your skin, open your eyes to macabre majesty, and make you feel like you’re unworthy in the presence of something much greater than the self.
Brought together with the immensely personalized black metal that Alkuharmonian Kantaja never once fails to put in an ominous light that’s just as alluring as it is intimidating, it’s the very whole of the bizarre experience that is “Shadowy Peripherals” that we get a world of chaos and glory the likes of which many corners of black metal are constantly trying to achieve, but it’s with their debut that this act has undeniably crafted something that’s born out of the strangest regions of the sound with the result being somehow all but compelling. If you’re able to persevere into the very heart of what Alkuharmonian Kantaja has made here enough to really bathe in all that this album has to offer then you’ll be treated to a truly rare breed of black metal that we’re lucky to get even a few times in a year, and even though they still have a long way to go in my eyes, there’s no denying the eldritch power and fascinating creativity that gives this release a pulse that is all its own.
LISTEN to “Shadowy Peripherals” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Alkuharmonian Kantaja on Facebook here.