Arkaik is an American technical death metal act from Riverside County, California. While initially a technical brutal death act, personal evolution and a lineup change led to their taking a new direction as a fusion-tinged progressive death metal act, gaining a not-small amount of praise and putting them in position to become another major player in the death metal game.
Formed in 2004 by Jared Christianson (vocals) and Chance Strickland (guitars), the band went through a revolving door of early drummers before Keith Roylance finally settled into his spot, while Eric Cohen also came along after several bassists came and went. It was at some point during the many lineup changes where the band released a promo and full-length demo before inking a deal with the well-known indie label Unique Leader Records in 2009 and welcomed in Craig Peters on lead guitar around the same time. Reflections Within Dissonance saw a release around the very beginning of 2010 to some underground acclaim. That same year brought with it their first US tour, as well as Cohen's subsequent departure and the entrance of his replacement, Ivan Munguia. Roylance then left the year after that, with his replacement coming in the form of drum wunderkind Alex Bent. 2012 proved to be their breakthrough year thanks to both a high-profile tour with Cannibal Corpse, Exhumed, and Abysmal Dawn and the release of their second album, Metamorphignition, which was released to much fanfare and critical praise. After a tour supporting Six Feet Under was cancelled, they wound up embarking on several smaller West Coast tours instead. As of 2014, Peters and Strickland have both left, with Miguel Esparza and Greg Paulson taking their place, though Strickland has stated that he intends to continue to work with them in some fashion. Lucid Dawn, their third full-length, will drop on October 30, 2015. As of 2017, Alex Bent was been hired on as the new drummer of Trivium, which forced him to leave completely. Gabe Seeber (The Kennedy Veil) did session drums on Nemethia, their fourth full-length, and Brandon Millan (The Last of Lucy) was hired on as their new full-time drummer shortly after recording had concluded (and bailed a few months later). After a very busy 2017 that included a great deal of touring, Greg Paulson decided to leave in March of 2018, citing what seemed to be general exhaustion and burnout. After that year's Devastation on the Nation tour had finished, the new lineup was revealed: Cris Portugal and Alex Haddad were the new full-time guitarists, and Riley Christensen was the new full-time bassist, while Nathan Bigelow was still a session member until further notice due to his additional duties with Alterbeast before he wound up formally joining later in the summer.
As of 2019, they have signed to The Artisan Era and have released a new single, and while a new album is currently being written, it is not expected to be out before 2020. Additionally, Riley Christensen has left, and Word of God is that they are currently working on a replacement.
- The Divine Manifestation (2006) - promo EP
- Existential Chaos (2007) - full-length demo
- Reflections Within Dissonance (2010)
- Metamorphignition (2012)
- Lucid Dawn (2015)
- Nemethia (2017)
- Supernal Flame (2019) (single)
- Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts (2022)
The band contains examples of the following tropes:
- Afro Asskicker: Alex Bent is a rare Hispanic example.
- All Drummers Are Animals: Alex Bent is well-known for his manic, highly theatrical playing style and seemingly inexhaustible energy.
- Animalistic Abomination: The Omnipus, the god of the setting, who takes the form of a gigantic, infinite-armed octopus who greets Cyrix during the final phase of his visions and shows him both the true nature of creation and his nature as The Chosen One.
- Ascended Extra: Adam Roethlisberger and Brandon Millan were supposed to be this, but wound up backing out. Cris Portugal, Riley Christensen, Alex Haddad, and Nathan Bigelow are or were straight examples.
- Brutal Death Metal: Reflections and Nemethia, though the middle two never really lost it completely.
- Concept Album: Metamorphignition kicked off the start of an ongoing saga of them.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Reflections Within Dissonance was significantly more brutal and closer to a more modern take on the California brutal tech style that their label helped popularize and lacked the prog elements of their later material.
- Epic Rocking: "Temple Aflame" (15:48, though the actual music ends at 4:54 and segues into a sound collage) "The Omnipus" (10:07), "Order of the Hierogon" (9:33), "Opus Brahmanic" (6:17), and "Fleshwalkers" (6:10).
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Nexion Stargate is a dimensional portal, but without proper training, even going near it will annihilate anyone who tries, and being able to enter it and then survive the journey requires special magical training.
- I Am the Band: Jared Christianson became this after Greg Paulson left, though he had been this in varying degrees ever since the departure of Chance Strickland and Craig Peters.
- Instrumentals: "Opus Brahmanic", minus the occasional chants.
- Kill It with Fire: "Temple Aflame", where Cyrix destroys one of Khaal-Li-Phar's Anti-Magic-generating temples.
- Large and in Charge: Greg Paulson during his run with the band.
- Lead Bassist: Eric Cohen and Ivan Munguia have both been Type A examples.
- The Magocracy: Khaal-Li-Phar runs an autocratic one of these, and Cyrix quickly discovers that he uses Anti-Magic to cut off the rest of humanity from their own innate magical gifts.
- Man on Fire: How Cyrix initially attempts to off himself. As The Chosen One, it doesn't quite go as he planned.
- Metal Scream: Jared is a Type 2, but added Type 3s to his repertoire circa Lucid Dawn.
- Motor Mouth: Jared is a frequent practitioner of this.
- New Sound Album: Metamorphignition was a pretty major change from the heavily Deeds of Flesh-influenced debut to a very proggy, fusion-influenced sound, albeit one retaining most of their old brutal death sound.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: While bass has always played a very major role in their style, they did not had a full-time bassist between at least 2015 (if not earlier) and 2018, when Riley Christensen formally joined, and with Riley out, they currently do not have one again. Ivan Munguia stopped being able to play shows at some point in the mid-2010s, and while Adam Roethlisberger was supposed to become an Ascended Extra, his spotty availability forced him to go back to being a live-only member.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Jared Christianson is only 5'5", while Nathan Bigelow is roughly an inch taller.
- Progressive Metal: Heavily influenced by it on Metamorphignition.
- Purple Prose: Common on their earlier material.
- Revolving Door Band: They have never had a lineup last from one album to the next, and they are also infamous for having a lot of live fill-ins due to members not being able to make tours; the Jared/Cris/Alex/Riley/Nathan lineup was the first lineup in years where all the members were clear full-timers. While they have always had frequent lineup changes, the floodgates really opened after Peters and Strickland leftnote .
- Rock Opera: Their releases from Metamorphignition onward have told the tale of Cyrix, a monk whose consciousness was shunted into an alternate reality during a bout of Self-Immolation. Metamorphignition tells the tale of how he got there and the visions that he received during his journey, Lucid Dawn chronicles his arrival into the alternate reality and the subsequent overthrow of the corrupt mage dictatorship of Khaal-Li-Phar, and Nemethia chronicles his accidental discovery of an enclave of banished mystics who have been awaiting his arrival as The Chosen One.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Particularly on the early material, sometimes to a fault.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Riley Christensen, apparently, which was part of why he Rage Quit the band after an online argument with Jared after a lengthy period of increasingly frayed relations between him and the rest of the band.
- Solo Side Project: Dessiderium, Alex Haddad's one-man prog-death project. Destroying the Devoid also started out as this, but became Craig Peters' main project after he left.
- Special Guest: A lot:
- As live fill-ins: Cameron Porras and Ron Casey (though Cam never got to fill in because the tour was cancelled), Jason Borton, Adam Roethlisberger (Vitriol), Dylan Walker, Adam King (Singularity), Brandon Millan (The Last of Lucy), Cris Portugal (Enslave the Creation), Nathan Bigelow (Singularity, Alterbeast), Riley Christensen, and Alex Haddad. Roethlisberger and Millan eventually became full-time for all of several months apiece before quitting (though the former did go back to being a live member), while Portugal, Christensen, and Haddad joined full-time and stayed, and Bigelow's status was up in the air for a bit until he quit Alterbeast. Curtis Rielley (Wurm Flesh) was apparently also offered the job, but declined (though he is still good friends with the band).
- As album guests: Trevor Strnad and Ryan Knight, Gabe Seeber, Joe Haley, Arde Ostowari (Burning the Masses), Malcolm Pugh, and Jack Fliegler (Singularity). Peters and Strickland have also continued to help out after their departure, usually with programming and orchestration, and Peters also played a guest lead on "Futile State" off of Nemethia.
- Start My Own: Craig Peters started his one-man progressive death metal project Destroying the Devoid while he was still in Arkaik; he chose to devote more time to it after he quit the latter. Miguel Esparza started Descensum around the very end of the 2010s as an online project with Adham Kaddour. Subverted with Vitriol, as they were around before Adam Roethlisberger was in the band.
- Technical Death Metal: Tech on their earlier material, prog on Metamorphignition.
- Teen Genius: Alex has been playing drums since he was eleven years old, was playing in the Modesto Junior College Jazz Band at fifteen, got a gig playing for Steve "Zetro" Souza's new band Hatriot at sixteen, and got the Arkaik gig when he was just barely eighteen. Many of the early members were also this, as Jared Christianson and Chance Strickland co-founded the band while in high school.
- "They've Come So Far" Song: "Supernal Flame" summarizes each previous step of Cyrix's journey as he prepares to embark on the next step.
- Vocal Evolution: Jared started using highs in addition to his lows circa Lucid Dawn.
- Word Salad Lyrics: The philosophical/metaphysical themes of their earlier material occasionally got too carried away.