Archaios is my first encounter with a Dominican metal band, and if their sophomore album "The Distant" is an indicator of what metal from the Dominican Republic sounds like, then please give me more.
We are dealing with sublime melodic death metal, which displays very high musicianship. All the tunes on the album are extremely melodic without ever being poppy, which is otherwise something which a lot of Swedish melodeath suffers from these days - if I were to compare this release to a Swedish melodeath released, then it would be Dark Tranquility's "Fiction" because "Fiction" retains more elements from extreme metal than most other Swedish melodeath releases do. Anyway, while there is a lot of melody, and Archaios are not afraid to make use of keyboards and electronic elements every now and then, they retain the focus on string riffage and aggression, which surfaces in the use of blastbeats, black metal elements and what seems to be an inspiration by Kreator-styled German thrash metal. Moreover, the vocals are exclusively growled, so there are no pop-oriented clean choruses to be heard here.
The technical level gets quite advanced at times, and especially the guitar solos are pretty impressive. Many of the tunes also contain passages of a very lush multi-layered texture, while other passages are stripped down and minimalistic, and, overall, this makes for a quite varied album. I would say that "The Distant" is actually quite progressive in terms of the band's approach to extreme metal (i mean there are even some power metal-like elements every now and then).
Melodeath might appear worn out these days because of the overexposure of the Gothenburg sound, but bands like Archaios are here to remind us that there are very original melodic death metal bands out there. So, if you are looking for melodeath which retains the extreme metal edge of death metal, and at the same time contains extremely well-written melodies and lush textures, do not hesitate to check out this release.
(review originally posted at seaoftreanquility.org)