You’ve got to start somewhere. Some bands will record four or five albums, go on hundreds of tour dates, and still wind up being doomed to obscurity. This doesn’t seem likely to happen to death metal-heads ARKHUM, who started out in 2006 and after relentlessly tuning their sound, began to record their first full-length. Anno Universum is a solid album with crushing riffs and some pretty awesome vocals. In order to better understand their music, this author managed to get a few answers from Stephen Parker, guitarist for the outfit.
1. What bands are influential to the overall concept of ARKHUM?
Our music has been influenced by many, many different things over the years. Just to name a few; Decrepit Birth, The Faceless, Gorgoroth, Shining, Devourment and Opeth. Of course they’re different for each member, but those are huge influences on my own writing.
2. What are the origins of the band’s name?
To be honest, it was pretty simple. One late night back in 2006 I was sitting in my kitchen with our vocalist, Kenneth, and our then bassist, Gabe Worstell. We were talking about names and it just popped into my brain that we all dig Batman. Ever since we were kids we have loved comics, especially Batman ones, so it seemed like a fitting name. Of course we changed the spelling to eliminate any copyright/trademark issues.
3. Since the early demos of 2006, how has the band changed both musically and lyrically?
For starters, we were absolutely atrocious back in ’06, and I’m glad we’ve progressed over the years. I’d say the biggest thing that changed our music and lyrical content was just growing up. When we started I was 16 years old and obviously didn’t know anything. We were all listening to many different bands at the time, which came through our music all too well. I am happy to say that recordings for ’06-’07 are locked away in a vault that will never see the light of day.
4. Describe the overall concept of Anno Universum.
While each song on Anno has a different concept in itself, the main subjects of our lyrics are astronomy and technology. If I had to put our lyrical concepts into one word it would be; SPACE.
5. Literature obviously has some place in your lyrical content; who are your influences in this area?
Absolutely. Kenneth has been influenced by the authors Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, R. Scott Bakker, H.G. Wells, Gordon R. Dickson and Kim Stanley Robinson.
6. What would you say was your favorite tour to date and with whom did you play with?
Our experience in touring is next to nothing, but we have played quite a few shows over the years. While our music and performance wasn’t the greatest, back in ’07 we played with 3 Inches of Blood and Toxic Holocaust. The crowd was insane even for us, who were the second act on. We’ve always enjoyed sharing the stage with our pals in Dismal Lapse and the bay area band Fallujah. Our good friends in Tormentium always know how to destroy the stage as well. I’d say it’s hard to pinpoint what my favorite date was, because we tend to only play with bands that we personally enjoy. So they’ve all been a treat in their own way.
7. If you could choose a four-band tour (including yourselves), who would you want to play with?
That’s a really tough question. I’m sure it would be different for each of the members, but I’ll give my insight. I would really enjoy touring with Rings of Saturn, Fallujah and Devourment. That would be my ideal lineup for a tour, even if it is quite far fetched. Oh, and absolutely anything with Cattle Decapitation would be beyond fantastic.
8. What can you tell readers about your upcoming effort? How will it change or stay the same? Can you offer any information about the concept of the album?
I don’t really know how to categorize it just yet, but it’s definitely better than Anno. We’ve all progressed as song writers and musicians over the last couple years, which is coming through pretty strong in our new music. We’re aiming to make this release far heavier in all aspects. But at the same time we’d like to further mesh our love for black metal with brutal death. As for a concept, I’m not really sure at this point. Kenneth and Matt are hard at work on new lyrics for the release and a name has already been chosen. We’re about half way through writing at this point and plan to record this December. The album should hit stores early/mid 2012.
9. What bands are currently in your CD player (or recently played in your iPod)?
Deafheaven. I’ve been listening to their new album Roads to Judah a lot. It’s really good, check it out if you haven’t. Defeated Sanity, Katalepsy, Avulsed, Katatonia and Opeth are almost always in my arsenal of music. I’m also really into the latest release from Katy Perry. It’s got some really good grooves throughout all the album.
10. What books (if any) are you currently reading?
Currently I am reading Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I know the other members are probably reading quite a few more books than I, but that’s all the literature on my plate at this time.
Interview by Jeremy Bigelow