Metal Temple, 10.12.2016

Having released one previous album in 2014 entitled “Unrelenting,” Finish band ARKADIA return with this their second effort. Building on from their previous release the band continues to grow on this nine track album managing to incorporate new elements while still maintaining their trademark sound. Opening with “Aspirations and Reality” the title track as well as the name of the album, it is clear that the band have not made any drastic changes to their sound but have stuck to their Melodic Death Metal  approach with a strong traditional NWOBHM influence and strong melodic sensibilities. While some rhythms are reminiscent of IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PREIST, this 1st song also has a underpinning of keyboards added to the mix towards the latter end of the song, in fact although the song starts out as a traditional melodic Death Metal song it gradually heads towards an almost MAIDEN-esque finish with  traditional melodic riffs and a solo that reminds the listener of Adrian Smith.

Second song “The Luring Madness” starts off strong with a highly infectious groove, what is again noticeable is the strong melodic element to the riffs, this song compared to the 1st track proving to be more cohering sticking with one element instead of trying to combine two or three. The song has a Melodic Death Metal feel to it, reminding me somewhat of AMON AMARTH and ARCH ENEMY, whereas mentioned the opening track seemed a bit disjointed this song however is a massively melodic hook laden piece of modern Melodic Death Metal of the Gothenburg variety, the vocals also coming across much stronger and delivered with more conviction.

Third song, “Small town Syndrome” – like the 2nd lyrics dealing with living in the closed minded small town and breaking free of the chains feel to it, finding one’s own identity , a fast paced groovy track that has an interesting breakdown about half way through accentuated with a strong bass riff, the bassist given time to show off his skills overplayed by a simple guitar melody, the song starting to then gain pace again albeit a bit slower at first before going back into riff that started the track, all underlined by an effective but not overbearing and never distracting keyboard melody underlying the riff. Like the 2nd song, this track is full of kick ass riffs, a strong central melody and lyrics about breaking free from the often closed minded mentality inherently found in more rural areas.

While previous tracks were more straight forward, fourth song “Foundation” is a slower affair with a stronger and more dominant keyboard presence and clean vocals used, the slower pace and the keyboard giving the track an almost epic feel.  Closing track “To Those It May Concern” is another hard hitting song reminiscent of the second song and is a perfect way to round of the album. Although the band do not re-invent the wheel  on this album and do not come up with anything that might set them apart they nevertheless deliver another solid album packed with fist pumping and anthemic Death Metal that should please not only their fans but anyone interested in Melodic Death Metal in general.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

8 / 10 - EXCELLENT

reviewer
Michael Bischoff
Friedhof Magazine, 2.9.2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

I do not know how Finns give stewed quality to these discs like saying good morning, as recently there have been bands with very good internal sensations falling, with great roads, including those lost because of more interesting musical offerings. Leaving aside the winner podium where we could expose the triumphs of Death Metal foaled in Finland, we can not forget one of the many faces or branches that have musically evolved more metal and melodic patterns, under the flag of for example Melodic Metal, a broad category where the benchmark and showcase for bands like AMORPHIS and SENTENCED surely have much to do in the full outcome of this album.

With that said, the settled quintet originally from Alavus gets to cash in on a wad of family virtues and fantastically embedded in the musical chapters of the bands cited as the music of Arkadia distributes wax good with their Death Melodic not skimp nor smallest details. Following the initial triad with "Aspirations and Reality", "The Luring Madness" or peculiar "Small Town Syndrome", the feeling is that we are facing some songs full of life, in front of a lively disco with many melodies, with many words to say and with a strip of flavors that promises to be a fast, addictive and easily digestible coordinates and much more compositional diversity with respect to their debut album enjoyable session.

"Aspirations & Reality" signed an album where the rhythmic distortion gives off a commendable sound, the melodies with clean choruses could sneak into countless occasions in works such as the "Tuonela" of the aforementioned AMORPHIS and what demons were in any subsequent album to your early works. The fact is that as you go by songs like "The Luring Madness" melodic acceleration, mostly male voices throughout the album advance and create ears couplings countless times but raising the same emotional and please the dust of Finland in that character type. Proof of this may lie in the phenomenal "Foundation" with a small passage of keyboards that contrasts with rage and strength that emerge in each of its contrasts and melodies, song that certainly have produced a video presentation.

The disc is presented fairly elaborate because following topics as "Forgiving Is Weakness" or the final hit that are cooked with "To Those It May Concern" comes out another wedges that occur together in this second work. The Rock and Heavy, both are not big players, in any case, they are much less than on their debut album "Unrelenting" although often travel the mast in portions the sea of ??thick, soft and sweetened remaining nickel plated with intonations fast and dry Finntroll wave gliding among the great melodies that earn much more space after spending half Ecuador of the vocal album.

In general, the correct technique, how to attack the songs and the wide compositional dynamics leaves room to spend many more things, one it could be the familiarity of some passages in the middle period of Arch Enemy and even Paradise Lost (serve the latter band to travel to early 90s or other like little allusions to mirror the first 90). That said it is clear that not only the Finnish seed feed ARKADIA although we, the modus operandi is as much his as the beautiful streets of the old town of Rauma.

"Aspirations & Reality" seems to me like a centrifuge at a thousand revolutions, with a handful of colorful as vivid as some songs that go round and round to channel their freshness and craftsmanship stain transformed into music. After several plays, certainly striking good interpretive level and the ease with which these musicians create songs that will not leave you indifferent, on the contrary, ARKADIA gets the attention of the listener and somehow lures to listening and it is a fun recreation musical in the making.

7,9 / 10

reviewer
Xavi B.
Metal Crypt, 1.9.2016

Finland's Metal scene is getting stronger, day by day, month by month, and year by year. I mean, it's getting a teeny-weeny stronger than many other Metal scenes in some other countries in this world, at least when comparing Metal bands per capita. Obama spoke out some words of wisdom right there.

Arkadia's second album, titled Aspirations & Reality, could be thrown under the melodic Death Metal category, but with some progressive elements just to spice things up a bit more. However, what underlines these fellows' sound is that they sound shamelessly Finnish on their nine-song follow-up album, having bits and pieces in their melancholy driven and catchy sound that reminds me of bands like Sentenced, Cryhavoc and Charon, in a very familiar way – almost too familiar I should add. Arkadia's own true advantage is that their pencil for some nice and hooky melody sections is sharp, and they haven't hesitated to use it effectively when penning them for this opus. Vocalist Antti-Jussi Valkama uses his throaty growls in very masculine way, sounding a bit raw and rough-edged as a singer but still being lucky enough to get his vocal parts fitted in well for the band's highly melodic and, at times, nicely rocking sound.

Aspirations & Reality is, to say the least, a promising second album from this young Finnish bunch. If they just can maintain this level of songwriting, I am sure people will hear a lot of more from Arkadia in the future.

3,5 / 5

reviewer
Luxi Lahtinen
Ruotuväki, 25.8.2016

Pohjanmaalla perustettu death metal -yhtye Arkadia säväytti suomalaisia metallipiirejä debyyttipitkäsoitollaan vuonna 2014. Tuore kakkosalbumi jatkaa yhdeksän kappaleen pakettina edeltäjänsä raskaalla linjalla. Arkadian soundi ei ole kaikkein perinteisintä Cannibal Corpse -henkistä kissantappometallia, jossa sointuvalle laululle ja selkeästi erottuville sävelille ei ole tilaa: Aspirations & Reality on tyyliltään melodista death metalia. Vinkuvat sähkökitarat tuovat ajoittain mieleen Metallican, mutta puhtaammin soivat osiot vaihtuvat usein hetkessä vimmatusti hakkaaviin riffeihin ja örinälauluun. Yhdistelmä on mielenkiintoinen ja tarjoaa kuultavaa myös vähemmän genreen perehtyneille.

Aspirations & Realityn selvä heikkous on albumin tasapaksuus. ”Foundation”-kappaleen jylhiä jousiosuuksia lukuun ottamatta levyn kappaleet eivät pidä sisällään mieleenjääviä kliimakseja tai todellisia huippuhetkiä. Soitto pysyy jatkuvasti perushyvällä tasolla, eikä superteknisiin suorituksiin ole pyrittykään. Lopulta moni kappale jää kuitenkin hieman kädenlämpöiseksi. Vaikka esimerkiksi levyn hiukan ylipitkäksi venytetty nimikkoraita saa kyllä pään nyökyttelemään, yhden miehen moshpitiä ei tee mieli perustaa.

Albumi toimii ennen kaikkea eräänlaisena esitelmänä Arkadian tyylistä ja melodisesta death metalista. Yksittäiset kappaleet eivät jätä liikaa kerrottavaa jälkipolville, mutta hieman omalaatuinen soundi kiinnostaa kokonaisuutena. Tulevaisuudessa Arkadian soundin jalostuessa entisestään luvassa voikin olla myös laajemman metalliyleisön kiinnostusta.

3 / 5

reviewer
Alec Nelhum
Metallicomio, 31.7.2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

The distance that often exists between aspirations and reality is generally a mixture of ambition and fear of not succeeding, dreams struggling to get out in an attempt to realize and fear the judgment of others and failure. And if the second win on the first, better to change jobs and ignore music. Which instead of our Arkadia, fierce Finnish quartet, does not seem willing to do. And indeed, they do not pray just to show us another sign of their presence, with this their new work entitled rather typical: "Aspirations And Reality", a second album that continues on the path cut by the previous "Unrelenting": a mixture of melodic metal and extreme sacrifices that largely speed and blast beats (however sporadically present) in favor of massive and varied groove, daughter of Scandinavian and British parents.

Yes, because in the style of Arkadia, the touch of personality that allows them to play a good hand of cards is a successful fusion of death sounds of Scandinavian mold and plenty of steps more classically ”Maidenic” without the need to fire all at hundred kilometers per hour: a little like Arch Enemy with less vitamins but more incicciti, aiming to fill almost every single vacuum with continuous casting of steel riffs and tempo changes, while retaining most of the time a classic and quite recognizable song form. Hot guitar textures and magmatic propagate like a volcanic eruption effusive for all forty minutes of the disc. Eruption at the beginning, unfortunately, sobbing and struggling a bit 'to break free.

The first steps, in fact, are not exactly brilliant: the opening task is entrusted to the title track but the initial round of the bottom is limping, because of a melodic semi-acoustic solution that has a little 'stale flavor of the amateur garage band. Fortunately, the granite plettrata pure classic heavy rushes of the stanza to put more than one piece.

The voice of Antti-Jussi Valkama has no particular peaks: it is a canonical but powerful growling, while it revised the part in clean vocals rather drab and anonymous, in this as in every other track in which it appears. Let's say that his voice is no more or less defined as "suitable": there is, you take her space, avoid overdoing it and helps to bring home the day. After so many heavy slaps, the song reveals waning towards the end, because of a melody too village festival style. Uncertain piece, with some good ideas but very little worthy of a title track, which generally expected a culmination of the proposal of a band. It seems that here is yet to clarify ideas and have too much hurry to say what he wants to say. Passionate declaration of intent but a little decomposed.

But if we have a little patience, we see that things are beginning to adjust to the following "The Luring Madness", a torrent of embedded notes on a deadly groove for pure headbanging. And the miracle is that we can do so without stepping on the accelerator too much. Very good blow, although not very effective to suffer the clean vocals of Antti. Definitely one of the best pieces of the collection.

"Small Town Syndrome" is another half-drop style. We continue to ask why the band is so determined to want to insist on solitary bass lines from meager and naive notes while all around are unleashed waves of riffs well built. To want to do evil, it seems that our having a hard time juggling of moments of wider melodic breath; as if they were something "much to do", a hassle that you have to shove from time to time to draw breath. It is true that it is reduced to a few seconds, but seconds that much disrupt the goodness of the song. Overall, too rough gem to be fully appreciated.

But here it is that the eruption finally takes decisive body. From the next track on, the qualitative growth of the tracklist rises cleanly: you strip away the strain and it gives more space to the concrete. "Foundation" is of epic proportions and granite, supported by riff ”crater” and peremptory mid-tempos, strengthened by the effective growl Antti-Jussi Valkama. A straight track and defiant as a spear, not refined (the "clean" vocals ... follows resigned sigh) but still pointed.

"Thorns" is a loose cannon placed at the center of the album, relatively short but very dynamic and varied: a warrior who made his way into the crowd of enemies slowly at first, then accelerates the sudden throwing against them. The massacre is represented by the only blast beat off the album, accompanied by a black metal junction riff; harmonies which alternate continuously, while remaining consistent and never chaotic. In the end, the fighter dominated at sword raised over the corpses. By far, one of the best songs.

"Kaatiala" is a valid instrumental track genuinely heavy and sadly, a rain shower in the morning from a leaden sky, which pays the toll the last works of Sentenced. Listen from minute 1:35 on, and see if it does not seem a passage that might be writing Ville Laihiala and associates. Far from this reprimand: indeed, it is the demonstration of the fact that the four-piece, when inspired, can integrate and build upon well the whispers of his muses.

Next track "Spitting Image" shows off a great potential live under decidedly swinging and fast rhythms that evolve in a guessed flirt with the more classic metal in the bridge before the final chorus. Contagious and rough, perfectly testifies to the growing quality of the album, after the initial uncertainties. Truly remarkable.

"Forgiving Is Weakness" launches an initial attack throughout Scandinavia that will be taken up in the middle; but also the rest of the piece to be dipped by the moods of the most dramatic Sweden and "progressive" (that of Dark Tranquillity masters, for instance). Another highlight, other arrow of the best that the band keeps in their quiver.

Quiver when fishing a good final episode, albeit lower than the previous, with "To Those It May Concern". It initially borders in almost thrash territories and the work manages quite well with first verse. It does not convince the central choir, chorus too epic, too in search of '' special effect on the cheap '; He flies back to the top, however, with a following painting from a folk style melody but supported by a foundation of massive harmonies and martial.

The aspirations of Arkadia, in short, are not at all vain. They already have their personality which makes them recognizable and, once filed some imperfections, probably will take them to circulate their name in the underground, and maybe even something more. This second effort is a step in this direction; It remains to be seen if they can capitalize on their potential, especially to the sound of live: a dimension that seems to be particularly suited for a powerful sound like them. Promoted.

80 / 100

reviewer
Alex Grigio
Desibeli.net, 18.7.2016

Kotimainen melodisen deathin liepeillä viihtyvä Arkadia julkaisi vajaa kaksi vuotta sitten esikoisalbuminsa, joka sai pääosin positiivisen vastaanoton. Esikoinen summasikin ahkerasti pikkukiekkoja aiemmin julkaisseen bändin kehityksen, mutta mihin suunta kääntyy toisella pitkäsoitolla?

Metalli on yhä metallia, mutta ryhmän soitto moukaroi entistä raskaampana kuulijaa. Takavuosien powerit karisivat jo aikaa sitten jaloista, eikä toista albumia pysty enää sullomaan oikein deathinkaan alle. Aspirations & Reality onkin melodista, raskasta ja juurevaa metallia, joka ei juokse muotivirtausten perässä vaan seisoo tukevasti omilla metallitolpillaan. Etenkin Foundationin jaKaatialan kaltaisista menevämmistä siivuista voi löytää muinaisenSentencedin kaikuja, mutta mistään perässähiihdosta tässä ei ole kyse, sillä Arkadian nykyinen tyyli solahti urilleen jo kuuden vuoden takaisella Vindication for the Lost -pikkukiekolla, eikä kehitys ole tuon jälkeen johtanut kuin entistä persoonallisempaan suuntaan.

Albumi ei käynnisty kovinkaan lupaavasti, kun kärkibiisejä on väännetty rystyset valkoisina, mutta hieman hapuilevan alun jälkeen ryhmä löytää nopeasti punaiset langat. Näin alun notkahdus oikenee, ja loppua kohden biisit tuntuvat vain paranevan ja paranevan. Etenkin viimeiset kolme siivua nostavat panoksia ja pieni eeppisyyden lisäys ei näytä ainakaan heikentävän lopputulosta. Hieman rohkeammalla alulla ja tasaisemmalla materiaalilla olisikin irronnut jo neljäs tähti, eikä se nytkään niin kovin kauas jäänyt.

3 / 5

reviewer
Mika Roth
Bleeding4Metal, 9.7.2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

Although ARKADIA was founded in 2003, their debut saw the light of day only in 2014. With "Aspirations & Reality" the successor appears. The title track opens the album and surprises by its strong NWOBHM-list, which is incorporated into the musical backbone of ARCH ENEMY, SENTENCED and AMORPHIS. 'The Luring Madness' is a straighter banger to which one can not only shake the turnip, but even must. 'Smalltown Syndrome' also comes up with a catchy melodic riff theme and closes thus seamlessly from its predecessors. 'Foundation' has genuine catchy potential which is unfortunately not fully utilized due to its keyboard parts. In the instrumental 'Kaatiala' comse the musical references to prematurely faded SENTENCED most to the forefront.

The very melodic Death Metal of the Finns is purely good and is great to party. In fact, I can see no boring songs on the disc even after repeated listening. However, I can not make out the absolute highlight of the plate is - it is a steady ride from the first to the last song. Who wants melodic death metal to start with, actually here you get a lot for your money!

7,5 / 10

reviewer
T.Roxx
Puro Ruido, 6.7.2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

2 years ago, I began writing reviews for the Finnish Inverse Records label. One of the first records sent to me was the debut album by this band called Arkadia. The disk in question, entitled "Unrelenting" showed us a band clearly influenced by the Sentenced to the "Crimson" was and turned out to be a pretty entertaining album. Well, two years later, the same seal send me the second album of this band and after listening carefully, I find that Arkadia have changed. Well - maintained their taste for melody, the epic, dramatic and sensitive melody, but have changed course. Now in its second plate, Arkadia lean towards Metalcore Melodic Death and the European court (which is less boring and less saccharine than the US).

Closer to the tragic and emotional Sentenced and Amon Amarth times, Arkadia demonstrate that they are good musicians who know and outline their proposal and adapt their skills to it. In one style or another, they move like fish in water, without glare or expose a huge talent for composition and interpretation, but doing correction, and security. That's why "Aspirations & Reality" is, like "Unrelenting" a pleasant drive, easy to listen to and digest. You can enjoy it in some way, without asking the group as to the compositions too, but, damn, these guys play well. In addition, the melodies are sticky but not too nice, the end portions are not too extreme, but are intense, and sound, clean and sophisticated, emphasizes all the neatness with which these Finns do their own thing.

Of course, if you're into raw bands, hollow sound, and lo-fi old school, Arkadia probably will seem shit. In fact, I usually very obnoxious with this kind of bands, especially when they lean to the side of Metalcore. But I accept that Arkadia sympathize me, I do not look like much and may never come to like more than I like, but they sound neat, honest and have some good songs in their repertoire. I mean, I keep falling well these guys.

reviewer
unknown
Lords of Metal, 07/2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

In the end of 2014, the predecessor of this release was falling on my doormat, called ’Unrelenting'. It was such a release that I could have been done without. Singer Antti-Jussi was quite nice grunts but also availed himself of clean vocals. The latter was so bad that I went cross-eyed from looking and the result showed directly ending up in poor grades. However, the last sentence still stands: if the band only would operate in grunts it could still be fun.

Now the successor is a fact: "Aspirations & Reality”, and fortunately the men heeded the advice. It is a plate with only grunts, supported by a very nice death metal. I must say that I, especially after the past disc, am positively surprised. The previous record was hanging together of disappointments but this album truly has very nice numbers in it. Solid melodic metal with a reasonable voice. At times it has some similarities with Kreator where the gas comes fast as the pedal sinks. If I write something like that, you should take that as a compliment. Technical and varied are the keywords. Take a song like 'Kaatiala’, what appears to be entirely instrumental, which is a song with beautiful melodies that have sublime call despite the reticence. Arkadia has all made great strides and demonstrates this with this record.

69 / 100

reviewer
William Pezy
Thy Demons Be Scribblin, 23.6.2016

Mix together some NWOBHM bands with Arch Enemy and what you get isArkadia. A little death, a little thrash for an overall mix that most will describe as melodic death metal or melodeth. I love some melodeth but there is an absolute plethora of it out there right now and the honest thing to say is that most fall on the decent to poor end of the scale. Arkadia attack the genre with a fervor blending in dashes of 80s thrash along with some NWOBHM ala Maiden and Priest that gives their style of melodeth a more interesting flare than most doing it right now. The death influence is pretty strong but mixed with melodic sensibilities Aspirations & Reality lines up nicely against Arch Enemy or Clayman era In Flames which is pretty good company to keep. We've had this one for several weeks and I haven't tired of it yet so check it out and pick yourself up a copy, it's excellent! 

Feind's Fav Track: Small Town Syndrome

reviewer
Feind
Les Fleurs Du Mal, 22.6.2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

They arrived at their second full length and with great ease to fame. Product of the Fantom-Studio SAMU Oittinen (Insomnium) and published for Inverse Records, Aspirations & Reality is the new album from Finnish Arkadia.

Those familiar with Scandinavia knows how much work there is behind every single band that comes out of those lands. Arkadia are no exception. Taking with them a vast musical knowledge and introduced by a bass line that invokes the main leitmotif of the song, the title track opens showing dances once defiant and bloody, launching stage a beautiful rich and dense musical carpet.

Drums and guitar make up the rest, at times recalling the grim line of Sentenced and the dynamic of Arch Enemy, while the voice has a direct and sharp effect.

Although it has truly memorable moments, the album demonstrates a solid domestic production and a work carried out with great determination.

"Spitting Image" thickens the air with the addition of much more visceral and distorted guitars and a harmonica line that resembles very much the The Gallery from Dark Tranquillity .

Musically the disc is heavily loaded, the rhythmic consistent and held to confer a sense of left and deep air.

Overall, the Finns have scored a really superb job that deserves all our attention and approval.

7,5 / 10

reviewer
Michela Anesthesia
Dead Rhetoric, 17.6.2016

They say you have forever to release a debut album to make an indelible impression – while the follow up can often show the true character and future development of a band. Previously raising a cursory glance through a Rapid Fire review of Unrelenting in 2014, Arkadia returns with Aspirations & Reality, another record that fuses a lot of melodic and heavy influences from their Finnish homeland as well as abroad. Differentiation can be key in sticking out above the crowded masses – as long as the genre-blending can be smooth for listeners to latch onto, which unfortunately is not the case here.

It’s obvious in a lot of the tempos and guitar riffing that the quartet has a lot of respect and admiration for the 90’s scene when groups like Sentenced, Paradise Lost, and Katatonia sprung onto the scene. Mikko Järvenpää has a melodic sensibility to his chord construction, infusing his heavy guitar tone with that Adrian Smith/Dave Murray-ish hypnotic nature which makes parts of “Small Town Syndrome” and “Thorns” bookmarks for the brain. When the rhythm section chooses to flex more of their double bass chops or switches up grooves in a heavier veneer for “The Luring Madness” or “Spitting Image” you get the sense that these musicians want to cross pollenate a love for old Children of Bodom against their melodic/gothic influences (kudos to drummer Mikael Leinonen for his varied groove/jam work on the latter song).

Where Arkadia lose me is the dual melodic meets death/scream delivery out of Antti-Jussi Valkama. Often monotonous to flatten out any emotional quality to the words, the title track’s barking nature puts Antti close to that generic metalcore singer that separates the men from the boys. Choosing also to use certain word placements as another rhythmic element is a cliché that needs to be minimized, it diminishes all of the tasteful guitar lines and building riffs surrounding the arrangement. Beyond the fact that the tribal artwork gives an equally mixed message as to what Arkadia’s all about.

Arkadia have a lot of smoothing out to do if they believe audiences who love melodic gothic metal and groove/death shall both come together for this.

6 / 10

reviewer
Matt Coe
Metaltalk, 16.6.2016

Back to the Nordic climes and Finland for this one and here's another band on the impressive Inverse Records roster. This is Arkadia's second album, coming a couple of years after the very impressive debut, 'Unrelenting', and unrelenting is a good name as since then they have done three major tours including fifty club and festival gigs in Finland.

So it is time to see how this one stacks up against its predecessor and this won't surprise you if you listen to even a few bands that come out of them there cold parts up north, but Arkadia's brand of death Metal is no straightforward concept, mixing the hard edged music, menacing growls and rhythm piledrivers that grab you by the fleshy parts that hurt most with melodies and catchy riffs that you are probably more used to hearing in the more classic rock arenas.

But contrary to the opinion that seems to be held by far too many, death Metal doesn't have to mean death of the melody and the approach on offer here works to great effect. Granted, as far as death Metal goes, Arkadia aren't at the extreme end of the scale but they can mix it with the best of them in the beef stakes and that is what makes the transitions to the more melodic parts so impressive – in some cases you can't even tell it is coming; seamless really doesn't do it justice.

The album opener 'Aspirations And Reality' is an immediate and perfect way for the guys to showcase their songwriting and musical ingenuity with quiet beginnings a la early Metallica, belting, rousing riffs and growls mixing well with a military mood from the drums and a mid-section packed with thoughtful and, at times, even melancholic guitar.

'The Luring Madness' is more in your face and making a beeline for your throat but still packed full of layers and more than enough stomping rhythm to get all your extremities tapping.

'Small Town Syndrome' gets the mix of death and classic spot on with a catchy and inspiring guitar line behind the vocals on the chorus and there is another one of those shifts with an unexpected but decidedly cool bass line lighting up the middle.

'Foundation' takes yet another twist with some punk elements thrown into the mix and some synths add to the effect of the track, a mix of styles and influences that may not on paper appear to complement each other but they make it work very well indeed.

Think of Van Halen's 'Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love' heavied and sped up and you have something approaching the beginnings of 'Thorns'. Naturally there is a load of attitude stirred in with it and after the beginnings speed, speed and... oh yes... more speed.

'Kaatiala' is different, especially for this genre, as it is an instrumental, and not surprisingly, given the preceding tracks on the album, it is executed very well indeed with some uplifting and catchy guitar work, so many in fact there are more hooks than at an angling convention.

'Spitting Image' keeps its destination up its sleeve for quite a while, teasing and hinting more than once with its thumping rhythm and catchy NWOBHM-esque guitar leading to a semi epic with the now familiar mix of styles working to great effect. Once it decides on its course, there is a very nifty pre chorus affair that provides the hook before tempestuous and thundering vocals grab it by the balls.

'Forgiving Is Weakness' is one of those with all the quality of a tsunami, coming at you in waves, some gently meandering and some crashing through everything in its path, the guitar in the middle quickening things up before the flood.

So to the final one on this offering 'To Those It May Concern' and when I say this one is one of the more standard rockers, I don't want to give the idea it is all very formulaic... far from it - it just has less surprises. It is catchy and memorable, a theme running through the album, the guitar is full of expression and emotion and the growls fit the mood very well leaving the harshness aside. There is a very long outro and it is handled well with atmospheric ambience being the last thing you hear, evoking memory and thought. All in all a good closer.

Musically this is a very good album with so much going on (and impressively clever too) and the band have taken a big leap from the good debut album from a couple of years ago.

Aside from the musicianship, the song writing is of a very high calibre and never do you get the feeling that any of the songs have been just thrown together – clearly a lot of thought has gone into every single phrase.

Guitarist Mikko Järvenpää told me they are much happier with this one and have managed to put so much more into it and it is hard to argue.

It may well come under the banner of death Metal but for those not totally immersed in that genre there is still a ton to admire and I can guarantee a fan of just about any flavour of rock and Metal will get something out of it.

4 / 5

reviewer
Roger Berzerk Fauske
Soundscape Magazine, 16.6.2016

Aspirations & Reality is the second album from Arkadia, following on from 2014’s Unrelenting, and it’s a solid release that builds on the foundations laid by their debut. Aspirations & Reality is a powerful and substantial album, and although there’s nothing about the music that really sets the band apart from the crowd, that’s not to say that Arkadia haven’t delivered here because this is an album jam-packed with nine hard-hitting tracks that will get your head banging and your fist pumping.

There’s a lot of momentum behind the delivery on Aspirations & Reality, both from the instrumentation and vocals alike, and the way Arkadia power from one track to the next is truly something to behold – it’s great to witness so much energy on an album!

Highlights of the piece include the nigh-on frenetic piece The Luring Madness, which is certainly an apt title for the fast-paced track, and later track Spitting Image makes good use of keys/synths to add a great element of melody to the song, whilst still featuring a deliciously heavy wall of guitars for the most part.

Aspirations & Reality is a good album. It’s admittedly nothing new when you compare it to all the other metal bands out there, but it’s a decent enough listen and proves that Arkadia is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

7 / 10

reviewer
Natalie Humphries
Ilkka / Pohjalainen, 13.6.2016

Alavudella vuonna 2003 perustettu Arkadia-yhtye julkaisi lokakuussa 2014 esikoisalbuminsa Unrelenting, minkä jälkeen ryhmä on heittänyt kymmeniä klubi- ja festivaalikeikkoja. Facebookissa ja YouTubessakin riittää vientiä, joten voisi sanoa, että bändi on nosteessa

Arkadian toinen kokopitkä äänite Aspirations & Reality puskee ilahduttavan tanakkaa vääntöä, jonka ainekset pohjautuvat skandinaaviseen kuolonmetalliin sekä melodiseen heavy-ilakointiin. Samu Oittisen tuottamalla teoksella puhdas laulu ja korina limittyvät esimerkillisen juohevasti.

Tuhdit tapporiffit viilaavat albumin kärkeväksi uhittelijaksi. Kansivihko on mukana makaaberissa hengessä piirroksineen, jotka riipivät tehonsa tummista tuiverruksista.

4 / 5

reviewer
Juha Seitz
Metalliluola, 10.6.2016

Käsissäni on Alavudella perustetun, nykyisin Helsingissä vaikuttavan Arkadian toukokuussa julkaistu toinen kokopitkä nimeltä ”Aspirations & Reality”. Rehellisyyden nimissä on pakko sanoa, että bändi on itselleni uusi tuttavuus. Nimen olen aikoinaan jossain yhteyksissä kuullut mutta siihen se jääkin. Mistään ensikertalaisista ei kuitenkaan ole kyse, musiikkia on tällä nimellä tehty jo vuodesta 2003.

Levyn avaava nimibiisi ei valitettavasti lupaa hyvää. Kappale on melko mitäänsanomaton jonka vuoksi se olisi sopinut paremmin levyn keskivaiheille. Pelko siitä, että koko levy jatkaa samalla linjalla hiipi mieleen. Onneksi tuo tunne häviää jo seuraavaksi kuultavan ”The Luring Madnessin” alussa. Nyt lyödään isompaa vaihdetta silmään eikä meno hyydy ennen loppua. Albumille on saatu mahdutettua kaikkea nopeasta kaahailusta aina rauhallisempaan tunnelmointiin kuitenkaan kadottamatta musiikillista punaista lankaa. Rytmikitarat murisevat mukavasti ja kaiken kruunaa harkitusti viljellyt puhtaat laulut sekä koskettimet.

Bändin esittämä melodinen metalli,  death-vaikutteineen tuo etäisesti mieleen varhaisen Sentencedin sekä Amorphiksen, ajoittain jopa latvialaisen Neglected Fieldsin. Mistään kopiosta ei kuitenkaan ole kyse, Arkadialla on oma tyylinsä ja soundinsa.

Allekirjoittaneelle tämä tyylilaji ei ole sitä ominta mutta ei tästä juurikaan pahaa sanottavaa keksi. Tylsän alun jälkeen esiin nousee erittäin hyvä ja monipuolinen kokonaisuus. Tutustumisen arvoinen teos.

8 / 10

reviewer
Jose Arias
Metal Brothers, 06/2016

Translation (for original, click the arrow above)

Arkadia is a Finnish band formed in 2003, initially emerged under the name My Cathedral, they released a demo and changed the name of the group to the current. Since its creation took several demos and EPs, evolving from a melodic heavy to sound a little extreme, death metal, but without entirely losing the melody. In 2014 they released their first album and now it is time to turn to the second, which I mentioned.

Aspirations & Reality is a death melodic theme, with an attractive and captivating riffing, for me the best offered by this band. We also have the double set of clean and more corrosive voices. Inserted in this issue a very successful stop and topped with a final with great feeling, good start for the disc.

The Luring Madness begins with a riff very heavy, certainly reminiscent of their original sound that never lost entirely, with accompanying groove. It also offers a good solo epic dyes, although the issue as a whole is fairly typical of the genre. Small Town Syndrome is an issue more off the beaten, you could even say that with certain progressive airs on what is the composition and structure of it, again with its environmental stop, which develops very effectively, with acoustic and equally epic.

Foundation is a subject of death groove, catchy riff looking, although enriched with variations and changes of pace, always making room for the melody on the themes, melodies that stick like gum, it must be said. Thorns is a psycho heavy cutting, i.e. with its point of madness, a little here and there, they even put blast beats, it seems a bit chaotic.

Kaatiala is an instrumental, has a beginning with acoustic and proves to be a full-time melody and with much support from keyboards, not bad. With Spitting Image retake the path of melodic death, with clean and grunts as the beginning where most noteworthy is the punch of the riffs I said, the solos are not bad but they are not murderers.

Forgiving Is Weaknessis a cut that moves between heavy and melodic death true, with accelerations and addictive rhythm. It closes the album with To Those It May Concern, a subject of death metal but with an atypical final doom in key compared to everything they have done before.

In short, it is an album that is heard without difficulty and enjoy, but maybe they miss a dose of aggressiveness, personality and develop a little more your style, but mimbres have. A combination of normal stuffwith some quite interesting topics, which suggest that in the future they could give much more of themselves.

6,5/10

reviewer
Vpower
Doomed to Darkness, 23.5.2016

  Arkadia  are  a  band  from  Finland  that  has  been  featured  before  in  this  zine  and  plays  a  melodic  mixture  of heavy,  doom,  and death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of t heir  2016  album  "Aspirations  &  Reality"  which  was  released  by  Inverse  Records.

  Clean  guitars  and  drum  beats  start  off  the  album and  all  of  the  musical  instruments  have  a  very  powerful  sound  to  them  and  after  awhile t he  music  goes  into  a  heavier  direction  along  with  soem  death  metal  growls,  high  pitched  screams  and  melodic  guitar  leads  being  introduced  to  the  recordign  as  well  as  a  great  amount  of  90's  doom/death  metal  influences.

  A  great  amount  of  melody  can  be  heard  in  the  guitar  riffing  and  clean  singing  vocals  can  also  be  heard  in  certain  sections  of  the  recording  and  the  songs  also  being  in  a  modern  style  of  melodic  death  metal  and  synths  are  also  added  onto  some  of  the  tracks  along  with  a  touch  of  goth  metal while  clean  playing  also  makes  a  return  in  certain  sections  of  the  recording and  as  the  album  progresses  they  bring  an  instrumental  onto  the  recording  and  all  of  the  songs  stick  either  to  a  slow  or  mid  paced  musical  direction  while  there  is  a  brief  use  of  blast  beats.

  Arkadia  creates  a  recording  that  sees  them  going  into  more  of  a  melodic  death  metal  direction  while  still  having  some  doom  and  goth  metal  elements  in  their  musical  style,  the  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  dark  and  depressive  themes.

 In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  from  Arkadia  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  melodic  death  metal  or  doom/death  metal,  you  should  check  out  this  album.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Aspirations  &  Reality"  "Foundation"  "Spitting  Image"  and  "To  Those  it  may  Concern".

8 / 10

reviewer
OccultBlackMetal
Cadaver Garden, 21.5.2016

Melodic death metal comes in all different sounds and Arkadia has that different sound to them that you wouldn’t necessarily group with The Black Dahlia Murder and the like. Aspirations & Reality is Arkadia’s newest offering and it displays nine songs of unique melodic death metal that not only can be pummeling but are also atmospheric and ambient at the same time. Throughout each song, Arkadia mixes tempos and transitions between heavy crushing death metal to a slower more melodic pace and back again. Aspirations & Reality has quite a bit of diversity running through it which gives the listener more variation and keeps you guessing as to what you will be getting next.

Arkadia presents one solid slab of melodic death metal after the next as each song rolls to the next. There isn’t a song on this record that is used as a filler, so what you get is nine solid songs that are thick with ambiance and galloping death metal. ThroughoutAspirations & Reality you never really know what sound you will be getting next as these Finnish death-heads transition between romping death metal and shrouding melodic entries. All in the same song you can be headbanging one second then the next you can be thrust into a thick amount of wondrous atmosphere which is brought to you by well placed synths that work alongside deafening death metal noise.

With each song, Arkadia does a great job of balancing out the softer elements with the harsher elements to create a diverse listen. Each of the nine songs that are present on this record catch your attention and work their way into your mind one way or another. The twists and the turns that run through this record are a small part of what makes this record captivating as you don’t know what you will be getting one minute to the next. The larger part of what makes this release memorable is the fact that the production is clean and the music itself is well written and well performed.

Even though Arkadia borders on the softer side of death metal there is no shortage of skull damaging tirades of death. Every song is riddled with romping sections of deadly death metal that keep you headbanging until your neck snaps. You get punishing riffs supplemented by screeching solos, your yearly dosage of concrete shattering bass lines, a drum performance that sounds as though the drummer has a grudge against his own kit, and vocals that are gravel filled and yet completely understandable.

On the other side of the blood drenched coin, when the more melodious moments appear, Arkadia breaks out the synths that shroud you in atmosphere, clean vocals that are brief yet soaring, and you get to hear the bass shine like on Small Town Syndrome. There is a good balance of both heavy and harsh as well as soft and mellow. Within this release there are plenty of riffs and guitar solos to air guitar to and the vocals are spot on so you can scream with the vocalist if you so choose.

Aspirations & Reality is a solid release and a good listen that gives you plenty of content through nine songs. The musicianship is tight, the vocals are powerful and the production is clean and each of those elements have come together to create a record that is hard hitting and keeps you interested and listening for its entirety.

Aspirations & Reality is already out in Finland, but it will be released internationally June 17, 2016 through Inverse Records.

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