Even if it mightn’t be completely obvious, there’s a lot of pressure on Arkdown to be really, really good. They’re breaking through at a time when Bury Tomorrow and While She Sleeps are flying the Brit-metal flag higher than ever before, and their hometown of Sheffield isn’t exactly short of talent in that department either, spanning Def Leppard, Bring Me The Horizon and (perhaps most relevant to them) Malevolence. Their debut EP might have picked up some solid acclaim and netted them the crucial support slots that a band at their level really depend on, but The Calling will undoubtedly represent Arkdown’s make or break moment, when they’re in the biggest spotlight they’ve ever been in with actual expectations around them.
That can make it difficult to know how to fully judge these five tracks though. After all, Arkdown are still a very new band yet to find their own sound, and that can render the intensity of the hype around them somewhat premature. Therefore, it feels like the most level-headed judgement is that The Calling is not their make or break moment, rather falling somewhere in between. And yes, the majority of that reticence does come from a lack of individuality on their part, clearly stitching together pieces from the metalcore and deathcore bands around them to build up some kind of foundation. It can be the only reasonable explanation for Falling, a limp ballad afflicted by some extremely poorly integrated synths and an atmospheric vibe that runs totally at odds with everything else on this EP. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to suggest that Architects have been in the peripheral vision somewhere, such is the case with a myriad of other bands given how clearly their individual styles have been purloined here.
To Arkdown’s credit though, they’re good at what they do, and even when formulating their very clear influences into something of their own, there’s a smoothness and a professionalism that’s definitely good to see. Tracks like It Calls Me and Mirrors do well to weave in some more technicality in their guitars (something that really takes off with the solo on Five Years), and it doesn’t disrupt the heaviness that’s here in abundance. If Arkdown have a greatest strength with this EP, it’s definitely here; as often as newer metalcore bands can come across as watered-down in a way that betrays some clear crossover desires, Arkdown keep their approach thick and full with widescreen but natural production to accentuate it, particularly in Kyle Dawson’s vocals with a menacing low end that has genuine reverberating power. It definitely helps with how short these tracks are too, keeping the assault brusque for maximum impact with minimal time wasted.
It’s a good starting block to move from, especially when The Calling feels just brief enough for Arkdown to deliver a satisfying enough listen without laying all their cards on the table. Yes, it’s still plagued with the issues of a band starting out that will typically go away in time (though with a genre range as narrow as theirs, Arkdown will have to do more than most to sort that out), but for a fairly basic metal release with a good sense of punch and power, this is definitely worth a spin, if only to consider where this band could potentially go from here.
For fans of: Bury Tomorrow, Demoraliser, Thy Art Is Murder
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Calling’ by Arkdown is released on 2nd November.