Garth Arum is the solo project of Nightmarer, guitarist and vocalist for the Iberian group As Light Dies. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Nightmarer now presents the first of a series of albums to be released under the Garth Arum moniker, which he calls the ‘project of his life.’
He began writing the material in 1997, completed composing around 2003, and has now finally been able to record and release the first of the four albums envisaged in this project. It’s entitled The Dawn Of A New Creation.
It’s an eclectic blend of extreme metal, melodic orchestrations and electronica, and opens up with the instrumental piece A New Creation, which is very reminiscent of the brutal yet uplifting force of The Devin Townsend Project. Spaced-out beauty is one thing, and brutal metal another; Garth Arum sometimes struggles to make the two work well together, and when tracks contain both, the result is sometimes like pushing two matching magnetic poles together – they try to thrust apart, leaving quite a confusing mess in their wake. Nightmarer clearly has a lot of talent, and good composing skills, but his take on avant-garde sometimes seems to be more along the lines of throwing everything into the pot, rather than seeing what tastes good first.
When he hits the spot though, The Dawn Of A New Creation is absolutely fantastic. After a disappointing, and directionally confusing second track, A Barrage Of Hate saves the day. It sinks low into blackened death metal with orchestral accompaniments, before spiralling into gothic doom with symphonic aplomb. Though this album is often destructively powerful, there’s something enchanting about the music too; new age touches bring the heavy guitars out of the pit of hell, creating passages which are as gorgeous as they are annihilative. The music which is produced under the Garth Arum name is inspired by dreams and fairy tales; and there certainly is something dreamy about much of the record.
Between episodes of musical pyromania, Nightmarer finds the time to dive into dream-pop synths and compose exquisitely layered music. As I’ve said, this isn’t always successful when he tries to mix in heavier elements – often due to the overwhelming nature of the sounds colliding – but with the promise of another three albums to come from this project, there’s still time to refine the sound.
Three songs from The Dawn Of A New Creation are available to stream from Garth Arum‘s Bandcamp. Listen here:
Garth Arum’s first effort suffers from trying to give too much. I’m not saying that the combination of genres doesn’t work, but ultimately, again and again, there’s too much to concentrate on at once.
I think that what Nightmarer is trying to do is a great idea, but hasn’t been executed perfectly with his first effort as Garth Arum. Hopefully the second album will be a more carefully planned expedition. I’ll be looking forward to it.