Den Förstfödde marks the end of an era, in a fashion. It has been stated by the band to be the last release from this underground Swedish Black Metal band, which carries the name Arckanum. In the last twenty-five years, the one-man band has released a grand total of eight Full-length releases, five Demos and four EP’s, as well as various Splits and Compilations. The crowning jewel will be the afore-mentioned record (the title of which translates from Swedish to ‘The Firstborn’), set to be released next month.
Returning to his Scandinavian roots, Den Förstfödde is performed entirely in his native Swedish, with the lyrical themes revolving around the mythical firstborn (in this instance referring to Jórmungandr, the World Serpent of Norse Mythology). Said lyrics take the shape of invocations and prayers, meant to beckon the coming of Ragnarok, the Norse version of the End Times. And while I will admit that my Swedish is sketchy at best, I will at the same time attest to the effective use of this approach:
The near-supernatural approach of the lyrics blend together perfectly with the near-traditional approach the band has taken to the musical aspects of the album. The early days of Second Wave of Black Metal is very obvious on this record, with its distorted instruments and powerfully evocative presence (which is also immensely evident in the lyrical tracks). In one aspect does Arckanum differ from other bands of the era such as Mayhem or Emperor – And that is in the pacing.
As far as I can tell, the music is kept slightly slower and deeper, causing the overall feel of Den Förstfödde to be one of slow, meticulous menace (for a lack of a better word). Something that I find fitting in an album meant to herald the inevitable approach and consumption of the world, first in a three-year winter, then burning by the flames of the fire giants.
Now sadly, as of the moment of this writing, not even a Single has been released from this album yet, and as such I cannot even showcase what this album has to offer, and in extension, why I find it so intriguing; Nor can I compare it to the qualities of previous releases, since this is my first rendezvous with this particular artist. That aside, I would say that if this is the high note upon which the band decides to leave, then it is a worthy one.