Coffin Storm – Arcana Rising Review

Riffs.

That is all. Call it.

In all seriousness, I worship the almighty riff. So, my heavy metal friends, if you’re like me and if it’s riffs that you’re searching for, prepare to be swept off your feet by an F-5 cyclone of them on this new Coffin Storm album, Arcana Rising. Before we dive in too much deeper, here’s a quick side note: I will listen to any band with “coffin” in its name. That is a rule I live by and, quite frankly, one I cherish.

Release date: March 29, 2024. Label: Peaceville Records
But back to the almighty riff. Yes, you’ll find plenty of them on the band’s debut, Arcana Rising, released by the fine folks over at Peaceville Records—have you ever heard of them? Peaceville has been on quite the tear in the last couple of years, releasing fantastic records from bands like Darkthrone, Mork, Hellripper, and Static Abyss. Go ahead and add Coffin Storm to the list.

Speaking of Darkthrone, and not to shed too much light on that band, but the first thing I’m sure most folks will notice about Coffin Storm is a particular black metal legend and heavy music connoisseur on vocals—Fenriz of…yes…Darkthrone. However, I advise you to set aside any Darkthrone bias or expectations. While you’ll hear some Nocturno Culto-esque riffs from that band, Coffin Storm is a refreshing project and a love letter to the founding fathers of sensational heavy metal. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the band also features heavy hitters, Apollyon of Aura Noir, Lamented Souls, and Cadaver notoriety, and Bestial Tormentor of Infernö and Lamented Souls. To use a very overused term, it’s an Oslo, Norway supergroup of sorts.

As for the record itself, it riffs…hard. Arcana Rising is a cornucopia of doom, slower-paced thrash, and classic heavy metal. As you listen to the record, and just as advertised, you’ll find bits and pieces of Agent Steel, Candlemass, Pentagram, Paradise Lost, and Exodus. Quite frankly, if you’re a fan of heavy music, there is no reason to avoid this record. Zero. And on top of that, it’s, to put it bluntly, fantastic and a blast. It’s one of those albums you blare on the boombox while throwing back beers with your dad—while fishing or building a deck or something—and I mean that in the best way possible. In other words, it kicks ass.

Your voyage begins with the record’s first single, “Over Frozen Moors,” which gives you your very first taste of the epic headbanging grooves from the minds of Apollyon and Bestial Tormentor and the traditional metal, yet still unique, vocals from Fenriz. The mid-paced thrash fits perfectly here with Fenriz’s John Cyriis-inspired vocal style, but in a more baritone regard. But again, the riffs here especially shine. From start to finish, it bleeds the DNA of what made the metal genre so endearing many moons ago. It’s easy to understand why this was the first track the label threw out for public consumption because that main riff lodges its way into your cranium. And that doom beat and finale is simply spectacular.

I felt similar vibes on the title track, “Arcana Rising,” but in a more drawn-back manner. Coffin Storm allows this track to breathe a bit more than its predecessor, which helps the track to gradually build to a climax of breakneck riffs at the halfway point. “Arcana Rising” also displays how perfectly the drums sit in the album’s mix and showcases how the band takes various influences and ideas and somehow make them work, something that would be difficult for a less-experienced band to pull off.  

At the halfway point, you’re met with the 10-minute epic, “Open the Gallows,” which feels like a mixture of something off Agent Steel’s Unstoppable Force and Candlemass’s Nightfall. Much of the Agent Steel influence is undoubtedly heard via Fenriz’s vocal cadences and melodies, but there’s a bit of Juan Garcia-inspired riffing going on here, too. Coffin Storm’s ability to emulate the immaculate song pacing of bands like Pentagram also stands out like a sore thumb. On “Open the Gallows,” the band yet again masterfully interweaves and smooths out these beautiful earworm ideas. Metaphorically speaking, like how you could almost smell the incense catching fire on a Pentagram record through the production value alone, Arcana Rising does something similar with a thick yet not-too-polished sound. This continues on tracks like “Eighty-Five and Seven Miles,” which probably has my favorite hook on the entire record—it just gives me the urge to gas up an old El Camino and hit the road.

The eventual faster-paced offering on Arcana Rising is “Ceaseless Abandon,” which is topped off with some epic, soaring leads and dives headfirst into faster, thrashier moments compared to the mid and slower-paced tunes such as “Over Frozen Moors.” The record ends on a high note with “Clockwork Cult,” which, right out of the gate, brings back a traditional metal tone with Fenriz’s coolest vocal performance. Apollyon and Bestial Tormentor shine again here, creating melodies that dance like lights in a winter Norwegian sky. The song drifts off in old-school heavy metal fashion with drawn-out power chords, crashing cymbals, and a pounding kickdrum—exactly how the greats would’ve done it in the ’70s and ’80s.

If riffs and old-school heavy metal are what you’re thirsting for, Coffin Storm will runneth your cup over with Arcana Rising. But it’s more than just nostalgia; it’s the perfect album for the modern extreme music fan if not a history lesson. The album is the radical site of denim vests, Pit Viper sunglasses, and IROC-Z Camaros. It’s also a reminder that you can’t kill THE METAL no matter how many years go by.

Photo by Christian KICKAN Holm

Posted by Josh Heath

Taller than Glenn Danzig, but shorter than a funeral doom LP. Lover of riffs and cheesy horror films. Hot wing connoisseur. On Twitter or X, whatever: @CatacombsMedia

  1. I dig these riffs indeed. (I like this more than Darkthrone, gotta say). Now I want to try listening to this while building a deck with my Dad.

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  2. I find it rather stricking that the elephant in the room -the god-awful vocals- is completely ignored, like it has been on every ‘serious’ outlet, basically.

    Even if, as a ‘reviewer’ (see how I didn’t go the eary route and said ‘fanboy afraid to offend the Greats’?), you like the vocals, it is still your obligation to mention that, at the very minimum, they may not be for everyone. Not doing so is not doing your job.

    I am quite taken by the riffs, as are most fans of the genre. But the vocals would be unforgivable for any other band, I can tell you.

    Reply

    1. The vocals really stand out that’s for sure. They almost killed it for me too, the 1st time. But after the 2nd listen (which is possible cause the riffs are so damn cool), I started to actually like them, at least in the context of the playful songs. When I listen to Coffin Storm, I imagine them playing in my friend’s basement, and everyone’s wasted, and its the best since party since 1999. These vocals are exactly what you’d want to hear in that situation.

      Reply

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