Release year: 2018/2020
As far as martial industrial in the 21st century goes, Swedish Arditi definitely belong to the genre’s leading names. Debuting in 2003 with the 7″ Unity Of Blood, the belligerent Swedes have since then been a steady presence in the scene. Though the 2010’s saw the frequency of new releases drop, as Bloodtheism ably testifies, they are still here – justly claiming their place at the top.
Having originally been released as a digital-only release in 2018, long-running German label SkullLine’s CD edition of Bloodtheism sees it expanded with two tracks. In this form, Bloodtheism becomes a 46-minute epic of classic Arditi.
Those familiar with previous releases will find themselves right at home with Bloodtheism. There are no major, drastic changes to the sound or the atmospheres. An aura of ominious, ill-foreboding threat looms over the entire album, of armies marching and legions assembling, of an age of axes and conflict. There’s a sheen over the sound that makes it sound like the music is drifting from some distance away, from the mists of time and war. Belligerent drumming proclaims the arrival of Roman legions in their splendor, and the music blends together heroism with the oppressive violence of looming battle. Sampled speech sets tones of Traditionalism, martial honor and an ancient cult of militarism as the tone of the album.
True enough, Arditi sound very much like they’ve sounded since the beginning. The basic blueprint has undergone relatively little evolution in the past 20 years. As such, whilst Arditi’s expression has evolved somewhat, in my mind leading Bloodtheism to be the darkest, most evocatively oppressive Arditi material to date, to a casual listener this album is probably pretty much interchangeable with most others in the band’s discography. I mean, the martial percussion, the neoclassical instrumentation, the speech samples, the industrial looping structure, all of this is familiar from previous albums. So why bother with Bloodtheism?
The answer, to me, is simple: because it’s a good album.
No, it’s not Arditi’s best – but I have to admit, I can’t say which album would be my absolute favourite – and it doesn’t break new ground. But at the same time, the devil is in the details and there are enough of subtle inflections to the established Arditi sound to make this worthwhile to followers of the group. As already said, it feels darker and more oppressive than previous works. From time to time, the martialism gives way for brooding passages of dark ambience which proclaim not the glory of heroism, but the somber gravitas of conflict and death.
Casual listeners may well find that the previous albums provide enough of Arditi’s martial, neoclassical industrial for them. I don’t blame them, for reasons stated above. However, considering that Arditi’s material is always of a respectable quality and there’s not an absolute abundance of albums from them – I count seven full-lenght albums in 17 years – I for one welcome an addition to their discography.
Bloodtheism proves indeed that Arditi still have their deserved place at the forefront of martial industrial even in this new decade.