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Arcana 13 - Danza Macabra Review

by Matt Hensch

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Horror movies and heavy metal are fraternal twins. Behind the two different entities are similar themes and motifs which serve to dovetail the atmospheric elements of heavy metal and horror's visualizations of fear and revulsion. Arcana 13 were neither interested in the lifeblood of cult Italian horror movies nor the sonic ecstasy of heavy metal, but the contact between both. Thus is the basis for "Danza Macabra," an eight-song ode to the sight of horror and the sounds of Black Sabbath et al. in which every track found its inspiration from an Italian horror movie both lyrically and musically. This concept is brought to life by the arcane spirit burning within "Danza Macabra," wherein horror and heavy metal become entangled by Arcana 13's ghoulish atmosphere.

Emulating doom/heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram requires few components to pull off; it is not advanced calculus. Creating a musical force from this sphere that is relevant, however, requires the mastery of intangible measures most fail to grasp. For Arcana 13, these attributes, namely atmosphere, are invoked through their inspirations of horror, giving off its tense vapors, an Electric Wizard without the drugs. The Sabbath-esque drawls and doom-laden notations strike true to the intended image, seldom deviating from the annotations of groups whose seeds bloom with doom, but without giving an impression that this is a mere tribute. While the songs are loaded with catchy riffs and choruses, it is the atmosphere that is the key to the magic of "Danza Macabra."

The vocals, although ringing true to the tones of doom gods, are ethereal and cryptic, adding a tenebrous layer to the Sabbath-inspired instrumentation. The manner of Arcana 13 takes on an occult, dreary semblance through which the essence of classic heavy metal emerges to invoke themes of horror and dread that feel authentic, not forced. "Danza Macabra" features a startling amount of variety between its numbers, though the inferences between songs are extremely delicate. The psychedelic vibe of "Oblivion Mushroom" transitions from the occult rock/doom metal core of the first three tracks with the creepiness and groovy balance still in place. Arcana 13 even covers the theme of "Suspiria," poisoning the original to take on the toxic form of their esoteric attack.

I guess the one band that I've likened to Arcana 13 and "Danza Macabra" is Ghost, yet labeling them a copycat or clone is downright absurd. Arcana 13 has the incredible gift of atmosphere to add to the elements of horror and heavy metal they proudly cherish; they are exactly how they appear on paper, yet utterly magnificent from beginning to end. Don't think this is yet another group retching up a faceless Black Sabbath tribute; Arcana 13 makes other retro doom acts look like Disney bands.

Arcana 13 - Danza Macabra

Rating:9.0

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