Arcturus V is a mysterious project by a dude from Minnesota who goes by the psuedonym Vakhul. I can’t really find much more information about the project than that. He seems pretty active on Instagram where I was able to find a some videos of him performing. In so many words, I can say that this guy really likes horror flicks, black metal aesthetics, and all manner of dark stuff. Arcturus V first showed up on the scene on October 31st, 2019 with the release of “First Verse.” Since then he has had eight digital releases, including five full-lengths, two singles, and an EP. While I don’t entirely understand this sort of rapid fire release strategy, I will say that I have a soft spot for music like this.
“Verse 3” is the fourth full-length album by Arcturus V. It features nine tracks that are a near perfect fusion between suicidal black metal, and ambient darksynth. The cover art is pretty intense using only variations of black, white, and red for the color scheme. The image depicts a very angry looking gentleman surrounded by a red aura and an almost mandala-like sigil blob above his head.
The first time I listened to “Verse 3” I ended up playing it on repeat all day long. I grew up listening to some pretty gnarly black metal, so this was not only real treat, it was something quite different than what I usually listen to nowadays. Sound-wise the production quality is absolutely stellar for this type of music. Typically, I think that it’s satisfactory for music of this nature to be a little muddy and/or noisy. Arcturus V goes above and beyond that expectation with a clean, but not too clean production value that reminds me of early Shining. There isn’t a lot of singing on this album, but when there is, it’s pretty fucking awesome. The album closer, “Spirits Ov the Sun,” which reminds me of suicidal black metaller Leviathan (“Tenth sub Level of Suicide,” and “Scar Sighted”). It is a really great cut that showcases the full potential of Arcturus V as a traditional song writer. Generally though, the album is mostly instrumental. “Verse 3” has a lot of droning clean guitars, reverb galore, and a fair amount of dark synthy goodness. “Visonary” features a pretty disturbing atmosphere combining the sound of a choir and a sample of a man talking about his “odd tastes and eccentricities.” “Throne of the Stars” stands out to me as the most Synthwave like track of the album. I really thought it was something special even though I was singing Theatre of Tragedy’s “Black as the Devil Painteth” to it every time it came on (they share the same chord progression). Comparatively speaking, I think that “Verse 3” shares the same pedigree as stuff like Vrolok’s “Soul Amputation” from 2005, and Xasthur’s “Noctural Poisoning” from 2002. I can even hear a little bit of influence from Snorre Ruch’s Thorns, in “Aten” even if it’s coincidental.
Overall, I think that Arcturus V has produced a very passionate look into the darkness that dwells deep inside of us all. It definitely has that creepy suicidal feel to it that really brings back a lot of memories for my fondness of this type of music. If you’re at all curious to find out what darksynth would sound like if it was mixed with suicidal black metal, look no further than “Verse 3.”
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like darksynth but want something a little darker.
Stand-out tracks: “Spirits Ov the Sun,” “Throne of Stars,” and “Visonary.”
Album Color Profile: #000000
You can find all things Arcturus V at https://arcturusv.bandcamp.com