Araqiel is one of the fallen angels mentioned by name in the Book of Enoch, and thus serves as a fitting name for this Finnish one-man band. This is the debut release by Araqiel, and although it was released in early 2011, it was recorded already in late '09.
The demo presents a band that's loyal to the nordic traditions of Black Metal; the songs rely on fast, simplistic and repetitive melodies that breathe hostility, even though the guitar has a pinch of melancholy as well. The opening six-minuter presents this formula in a nicely refined form, as, despite all the repetition, the song manages to keep moving and retain its atmosphere throughout its length. The guitar employs a honestly raw and pleasing distortion, whereas the bass guitar serves as a cleaner pulse that gives the songs extra depth and kick, and manages to spice up the songs nicely when its rhythms rise up from behind the distortion. The drums have a hissing and fittingly lo-fi sound and keep up the pace really well with their vivid playing style. The drumming has some minor flaws, which is no wonder as they're played in a hasty manner, but its not a problem as these flaws suit the demo's crude atmosphere and hostility.
The second song is a slightly more rhythmic than it's melody-reliant predecessor, but they both share well enough attributes to easily be regarded as being composed and delivered by the same band. "Unholy Pagan Night" has bolder and thus slightly more interesting riffing, but the hostile atmosphere and the compositions' natural flow retain their status as the demo's best features. The riffs are faithful to the traditions on this one, too, but their truly concentrated delivery and attitude make them worth one's attention, in addition to the raw and highly pleasing multi-dimensional soundscape. The vocals are a great factor in the end result as well; they're served as quite distorted and hoarsely croaking shouts and screams, and sound like they're a result of quite a bit of effort. They could be used to further intensify the songs if they had more depth (which is eaten by the amount of distorion) and some variation, but as they are, the cold shrieks do good things to the songs' atmosphere. I'm glad that the artist knew not to overuse them, as this style of singing could easily cripple the songs into dull mediocrity if it were used wrongly.
The utterly ascetic design holds no images or lyrics, and regarding the band's approach and the demo's cheap price and pressing amount, I'd say it works rather well; it's not memorable, but has the necessary infos and its cold and plain design suits the music. The lyrics (which I received for reviewing purposes) are about anti-christianity, anti-semitism, and dedicating oneself to Satan and exploring the self and the world's true nature when guided by him. They're similarly to-the-point as the rest of the demo, thus further showing that demo is a coherent whole in all aspects.
The debut by Araqiel presents a band with a great sense of style and tradition, as well as the necessary amount of dedication. The main problem lies in the songs lacking memorability and personality, "the thing" that would make these songs sound more meaningful and unique. They're not boring, but don't stick to the listener's memory either. The demo presents an already time-worn image of the band due to its recording date, and I'm sure the sole member is able to achieve greater results today than he did when recording this demo. Araqiel seems to be a good pick for the fans of Nordic Black Metal who like their music with no unnecessary gimmicks of attempts to show off anything. Honest Black Metal, nothing more and nothing less.