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Sovereign Of The Lords Of Chaos

Posted by THE DUKE on December 15, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Arioch- Between Light and Shadow

2010 Retrospect Records


There has been a great deal of interest as of late in unreleased 80s metal. There were bands in the 80s that were fortunate enough to land on a major label, while others were at least signed to lesser-known labels. There were still others that produced demos, were never signed, and were never able to release a proper album. Arioch fell into the last of these three categories.

The name Arioch itself is a conversation piece. The word in Hebrew means “fierce lion.” It was a biblical name for a king who did battle with the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Arioch was also the name for a fallen angel under Satan’s command in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Finally, the name Arioch was used by Michael Moorcock in his Elric Saga as the name of one of his lords of chaos. The band used Moorcock’s work as inspiration for both the band name and some lyrical content.

Arioch was a band from Long Island, New York who released two demos during their time of existence. In 1989, they released a demo titled “Test of Strength” and in 1990, another demo with the title “Between Light and Shadow.” The album under review is a compilation of both of these demos. It is the first time that these demos have been released on CD. The CD was remastered by the band’s guitarist Joe Marselle for Retrospect Records based in Las Vegas.

Now that the background on this release has been broached, it’s time to discuss what really matters, which is the music. The band’s music can be classified as melodic power-metal with thrash influences. The singer Nick Parisi has nice range, and spends much of his time on these tracks in the higher register. He isn’t constantly hitting high notes. His voice just seems to be high even when he is singing in what could be considered a lower register. The riffs are strong, technical, and groove laden. There are times when certain songs on this release remind me of Annihilator’s “Never Neverland” album. It is mostly due to the technicality of the riffs, riff construction, and the underlying groove contained within. The songs move along briskly and are infectiously catchy. Very often, each song will reach a point where the guitarist Joe Marselle will come in just at the right time with a fury of guitar licks running over the top of steady rhythm work, which boosts the songs to a whole new level. This is exemplified in the song “Fearless.” The band also tends to use gang vocals in the form of shouts, which, along with some of the riff stylings give the band the thrash influence with which some critics have tagged them. This can be seen in a song like “One Shot, One Kill.” Songs such as “Infernal Dynasty” and the aforementioned “Fearless” are aggressive and savage with killer guitar work.

In conclusion, this CD is a collection of very high quality U.S. power metal by a highly talented group of New York-based musicians. Unfortunately, this band was criminally overlooked. This was most likely due to the timing involved in the release of their demos (1989, 1990). The period of time between 1989 and 1990 is when classic metal had already given way to hair metal, which would eventually succumb to grunge in the mid-90s. In other words, they weren’t in line with the preferred musical tastes of the masses at the time, which is quite a shame. But as far as I’m concerned, Retrospect Records unearthed a buried gem of quality U.S. power metal, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Check this band out, you won’t be disappointed.

Categories: The Duke's Classic Metal Journal