No news is good news!

A new Arx Atrata album is nearing completion, but when – and indeed how – it will be released is yet to be determined.

Similarly, tentative enquiries about bringing this project to the live stage are ongoing, but I can make no promises yet. Potential collaborators and facilitators are encouraged to get in touch.

This winter will mark 10 years since the debut record was released and the plan is to see out 2023 in a way that celebrates and builds upon the work done to date. Watch this space.

Oblivion – eight years old

Cover to the album ‘Oblivion’

Yesterday marked 8 years since the debut album Oblivion was released. Originally it was intended as some sort of blackened doom project but arguably became ‘atmospheric black metal’. Initially it was just a single run of 100 digipaks, but high demand meant a second run of CDs followed, all of which sold out.

I’m grateful for the support that’s been shown over the last 8 years which has seen this project reach far more people than expected, despite no live shows or record label. Thanks to everyone who’s bought CDs, merch, or downloads over the years.

Succession – official video

I’m proud to present the official video for the track ‘Succession’. This live action video follows the path of the eponymous Warrior as he seeks his final revenge, and represents the events portrayed musically in The Warrior Cycle.

Directed and filmed by Tom at Ritual Video (Instagram: @ritual_video ) at locations in South Wales, the video “deftly captures the story that the song spun so wonderfully without words”.

Read more, and watch what No Clean Singing called “extraordinary” and what Zero Tolerance called “incredible”, at the following links:

No Clean Singing:

Zero Tolerance:

Reviews for The Warrior Cycle

Thanks to everyone who supported The Warrior Cycle on Bandcamp. This was a slightly different release for Arx Atrata, being the only one without vocals (excluding the Arx Silvestris reworkings, of course) but reviews have been universally positive.

Cvlt Legion“two minds paint their own pictures upon a single canvas, and a harrowing apparition evolves” – 9/10

Ave Noctem“two fine musicians and storytellers weaving a tale without words” – 8.5/10

Occult Black Metal Zine “would recommend it to all fans of ambient, instrumental and post black and doom metal” – 8/10

Machine Music“Arx Atrata have solidified their spot, for me, as one of the best atmospheric black metal/post-black bands around […] The entire split is fantastic”

The Razor’s Edge“this record stands apart like the breath of fresh air it truly is”

Fjordhammer“the coming together of two great expansive and atmospheric bands” – 3.5/5

‘The Warrior Cycle’ – new split album coming April 2nd

On Friday April 2nd, Arx Atrata and Bleakwinter Shrine release The Warrior Cycle, a fully instrumental mini-album telling a tale of loss and revenge. Four epic tracks of blackened post metal, two from each artist, plus three dark ambient interludes, lead the listener through an epic and flowing musical odyssey.

The Warrior Cycle will be available on both Bandcamp pages, as a digital-only release for now. The download comes with liner notes talking about the theme behind the project and also how this record came to be.

The Path Untravelled – thoughts, one year on

A year ago today, Arx Atrata’s 3rd album was released. What have I learned in that time?

The Path Untravelled - CD digipak, open

On the promotional side, I pushed this album more than previous ones, but results have been mixed. When you push up into the bigger leagues people are less afraid to give negative reviews, as you’d expect and hope. But you quickly see from the contradictions across reviews that you don’t really get a better quality of criticism at this level, just a better quality of writing. It’s subjectivity dressed up as objectivity. The same release can get 10/10 from one source and 4/10 somewhere else.

But artists don’t solicit reviews for the purpose of gathering constructive feedback. We wouldn’t change what we write based on a journalist’s opinion anyway. We want the reviews to reach potential new listeners and tell them about us. So, did that work? Well… not especially. The previous album Spiritus In Terra broke even after 3 months, but this one took until last week to claw back its costs. Partly this is just because people buy fewer CDs and downloads. But additionally, streaming numbers are down for Arx Atrata, primarily because success or failure in the narrower subgenres all depends on whether an anonymous editor at Spotify chooses to add you to their official playlists or not. This time around they did not.

Independent bands trying to reach new fans these days are generally given 2 pieces of advice: first, to be constantly posting on social media in the hope that you build and keep a big enough audience, and second, to buy targeted ads on social media to reach new people. Essentially, the bands with lots of time and no money are doing free promotional work for Facebook and Instagram so that the bands with lots of money and no time get enough views on their ads. I won’t play that game – nobody wins except a handful of lucky bands at the top of the pyramid and the social networks themselves.

So what’s next for Arx Atrata? I had hoped to find live musicians and play gigs this year, but that would have hinged on both a more successful release and also the absence of a global pandemic. Maybe next time? For now, it’s back to songwriting, with something to share in the near future. As ever, watch this space.

Reviews in 2020

Although The Path Untravelled was released almost a year ago, new reviews keep coming in.

Earlier in the year, House Of Prog remarked in their review that The Path Untravelled is “majestic, all encompassing, and a damn fine listen”.

More recently, VM-Underground had some positive words to share in their review, saying The Path Untravelled was “a dark, sombre album with lots of twists and turns and a plethora of melodic interludes and tangents to keep any atmospheric Black Metal fan happy”.

Last but not least, huge gratitude goes to Italy’s Metal Skunk who wrote an in-depth article covering all three albums to date. The article is, naturally, all in Italian, but via the translating power of Deepl it was possible to see that they consider Oblivion, Spiritus in Terra, and The Path Untravelled to be “three records of the highest level” and that “Arx Atrata stands at the highest levels of expressivity”.

As always, many thanks to anyone who has taken the time to listen to the music and to write up their thoughts.

UK black metal streaming playlists

There’s an ever-growing scene of black metal here in the UK, and it’s easy to miss out on some gems, especially from the underground of lesser-known acts. Here therefore is a streaming playlist for your consideration – with many familiar names but hopefully many new ones as well.

Here’s one for Deezer users, with Spotify below.

…and Spotify: