A dangerous new machine has come to life. Combine one of metal's hungriest young singers, Jon Howard from Threat Signal, with gold-selling Fear Factory architects, guitarist/bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera, and you get ARKAEA, a new band that's volatile, violent and vicious. On cuts like the bludgeoning "My Redemption" and "Awakening," mechanized thrash riffs and pummeling percussion forge a musical foundation for all-out metallic brutality. Wolbers' guitars snake through a haze of feedback, while Herrera engages in drum warfare. The grooves hit hard with a piercing precision, and the vocals remain infectious, as each song proves a battle-cry for these musicians. "Gone Too Far" builds with a polyrhythmic, math metal strike, while "Blackened Sky" is a thrashy icepick of a track. Ultimately, this is more than a new machine; it's a metal revolution. Howard describes ARKAEA's familiar, yet innovative sound: "Chris and Ray have been writing together for many years, so the music does have a lot of Fear Factory elements. However, we've been open to trying different things. It basically fuses what I have been doing vocally in Threat Signal with driving Fear Factory rhythms, along with some of our own experimentation. The idea behind the project is to be heavy, but maintain melody at the same time. We have crazy riffs, but some grooving choruses as well. It's a great mix." Tracks like "Break the Silence" will no doubt captivate metal fans everywhere, with hard-hitting guitars and huge arena-ready choruses.
The band's experimentation also proves extremely refreshing. "Gone Tomorrow" is a slow, brooding song that shows ARKAEA's range and diversity by combining ethereal melodies and hypnotic vocals. Wolbers continues, "These songs were designed like the Fear Factory songs that Raymond and I always wrote. However, we've been able to push the boundaries and go out of that context, while remaining heavy." Howard has been a part of the Fear Factory family ever since Wolbers served as producer for Threat Signal's debut, Under Reprisal. Given that connection, the chemistry was there the instant the band started jamming. Howard has managed to push himself as a singer with the help of the veteran musicians. "I always try to do new things and experiment with my voice, and this project has been challenging," says Howard. "It always takes a little time to get comfortable working with new people and a new style of music, but I got over that really fast with Christian and Raymond, and I feel very comfortable where we're going right now." That chemistry is instantly undeniable upon first listen, and it is only going to evolve and improve.
In the end, what matters for these musicians is creating metal that will last. Wolbers concludes, "You have to write a lot of songs in life to stumble on those couple that are like 'Walk.' Every day, music pours out of us, and we aim to capture it." Howard concurs, "My goal is to create an album I'm completely proud of, that will last for years and years without getting old: something like a Pantera record, or and early Metallica record." Let ARKAEA's new machine roll toward the top. - Rick Florino