Melancholy is a nuanced emotion that can be biting or bittersweet as it washes through you. This nuance has been picked up by De Arma as they allow melancholy to flow through each track of their EP Strayed in Shadows. As the melancholy of the EP weaves through the tones, the duo reflects on feeling lost in yourself and the hesitant longing for a future without any change.
With pulses of gothic rock, melodic metal and shoegaze, Andreas Pettersson (guitars, bass, vocals) and Johan Marklund (drums, synth) send a ray of light inviting you into Nordic melancholy. With this EP, the duo has changed the line-up with Pettersson taking over the vocals due to the personal nature of the lyrics of the EP. Supporting his vocals is a guest appearance by Maria Oja featured on two of the tracks.
The EP opens with ‘Pain of the Past’ which slowly builds through the progressive opening to draw you into both the song and the EP as a whole. There is an expansive feeling to the music as it reaches out before snapping back to hit you with the pulse of guitars. The melody brings a guitar line that calls to your soul and rolling drums that tumble through your chest. The vocals bring a gothic edge to the track while the lyrics send shivers racing down our spine. There is a darkness to the vocals that walk the line between melodic metal and post-metal. The lyrics have a poetry to them that is beautiful to listen to while carrying the sadder thread of melancholy. The paced movement of the track swings halfway through for a lighter touch that sparkles like moonlit water. There is a chill to the atmosphere that comes with this change that is utterly beautiful.
‘City Vultures’ hits the ground running with a moving melody that has you bouncing around to the rhythm from the first moment. The layered vocals are cradled by the pulses of the guitar as they create a corridor through the soundscape that you can venture down. The darkness of the last track is transformed into something a little more anthemic that makes you want to shout out with the band. This is definitely a song that you will want to blare at top volume while yelling out with the band on the chorus. The pounding of the melody against your skin gets your moving while the emotional flows of the vocals sweep through your soul and capture your imagination.
Things take a more grounded turn for ‘Illusions of Love’ as the opening line offers a more subdued feeling. It is an interesting opening as the guitar feels like it should be soaring through the soundscape but is tethered to the ground by an intangible swirl of pain. As the vocals call out to you, they rise and fall from a shout against a storm to whispers in the dark. The melody moves to match adding to the power of the vocal delivery. Oja’s vocals on this track are a poignant accompaniment adding a new edge to the track. The darker tones of Pettersson’s vocals are tempered with the almost eery lightness of her performance. When they come together for the harmonies, they twirl with an otherworldly sense of the unknown.
‘Funeral in my Brain’ has an earthier touch to the opening before you are sliding on the flow of the guitars. There is a light bite to the emotions of the track, but this is not the cutting cold that you might imagine. There is a strange feeling of warmth to the vocals even though the lyrics detail feelings of being numb. The change in the delivery of the vocals brings a greater power to the track before you rise on a chant of combined vocals. It is an amazing sound that brings the coldness of winter nights to the warmth of a roaring fire. All of this is woven into the powerful call of the vocals that soar through your senses and fill you with the complex emotions of the track. The rolling of the drums shakes up your insides while getting your heart pumping before you leap onto the melodic guitar lines.
The alternative rock pulse that opens ‘Horror in the Dark’ is rather addictive in its push against your senses. The infectious tones get your feet tapping to the music before the drums make you want to move to their rhythm. The vocals seem to talk to the shadows but the story they tell swings before positive and negative emotions. There is a comfort to be had with this track but this is tempered with an understanding that there is something resting in the depths that is not right. As the track progresses, it feels like it is building to something. As the melody drops for a softer touch, you float on the gentle tones and lulling movement of the melody. This soft feeling gives way to a pulse of harder tones and the darkness that was being built up to.
‘Days of Judgment’ draws you into a relatable moment of falling in love and slowly getting lost in a relationship. There is an irresistible hook to the vocals that you are unable to deny as they lead you into the story. The layering of the vocals is impressive as the different lyrical lines add a new edge to the feeling of the moment. This all leads you to the pulse of the guitar that pushes against your senses in the best possible way. When Oja’s vocals enter, she brings an almost ethereal softness to the track. While she touches on the same topic as Pettersson’s performance, there is a very different emotional hit. The two vocal performance offers two experiences of the experience that completes the universality of the experience. Both performances are powerful but the calls that come from Pettersson are impressive as they slice through your brain.
The EP comes to a close with ‘You Were Blood’ that gets your heart racing from the blistering drums and vibrating energy of the guitars. As you listen to the opening of the track, you feel the urge to shake as the electricity of the performance runs through your muscles and sets them on edge. This bursts into flowing tones that propels the vocals into the soundscape. The echoing and layering of the vocal performance add depth to the delivery as the vocals encapsulate you and send you into the ether. As the track progresses, the melody gets a punchy feeling that pushes against you and sends you further into the song. While the track is over 10 minutes long, there is a dynamic movement that keeps you hooked from start to finish.
De Arma draw you into the swirl of shadowy melancholy while pulsing against your senses with layered melodic metal and rock through Strayed in Shadows. The EP is packed with addictive movements, delicate vocals, lulling performances and epic rides. Each song has a completely different feeling from the others making this a captivating EP from start to finish.