Artch are a heavy metal band, from Sarpsborg, Norway. (although by today's standards they would probably be labeled power metal.) The band began when two virtually unknown Norwegian metal bands, Oxygen and Arch, teamed up and started recording demos together in 1993, deciding to use the name Arch rather than Oxygen. Their name change came about by mistake, when a friend designed the logo. Apparently he misspelled their name ARCH, and put in the T, but the band thought it looked cool, and decided to use it. When things began taking off for the band, their vocalist was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. His replacement was Icelander Eric Hawk (Eirikur Hauksson), former Dryssil vocalist. Artch play heavy power metal that is often compared to bands like Iron Maiden, Metal Church and even early Metallica. The band broke up in 1993, but reunited in 1999. Their records were then re-released through Metal Blade, with bonus discs filled with demo and live tracks. Unfortunately these were not re-released in the U.S. Apparently Eirikur Hauksson is now fighting cancer, although according to one fan page, he was still performing with the band, bald, feverish, but still giving it his all.
Artch-Another Return (Active Records) 1988
1. "Conversio Prelude"
Man, when I first popped this disc in I had to go back and check the liner notes to make sure this wasn't a young Bruce Dickinson singing. Singer Eric Hawk, certainly has some of his own stylings and characteristics, but the quality of his voice and the tone seriously run the gamut between Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Mike Lee (Barren Cross). Musically, Artch do not sound like a Maiden clone even slightly. AMG said of this band that they were Norway's answer to Metallica. Hmmm, this seems to be the politically correct thing to say when you have NO CLUE about heavy metal. What this band is more akin to is early Metal Church and Fates Warning. Just sheer blistering heavy metal without any thrash or progressive influences. Sure the music is dynamic and other comparisons could be made, but the point is that Artch are just a fabulous metal band. Can't believe I had not heard these guys before. Apparently this album has also been released by Metal Blade under the title "Another Return to Church Hill." My particular copy is an independent, import release from Norway under the shorter title "Another Return." The full title "Another Return To Church Hill" is an acronym for Artch.
Artch-For the Sake of Mankind (Metal Blade) 1991
Angels Cry" (5:28)
Disc two features more of what disc one had to offer, only with more class, variety, and power. I can't help but use this comparison when I hear this disc. Imagine if Bruce Dickinson had joined Metal Church instead of Mike Howe, and you get "For the Sake of Mankind." These guys, if they had better marketing and were around just a few years earlier could have been some serious contenders for the top spots. "For the Sake of Mankind" features lots of crunchy power metal tunes, but with more commercial appeal than many bands who are in their class of metal. I seriously think this disc should have been as classic as Maiden's "Piece of Mind," Dio's "Holy Diver" or Priest's "Screaming for Vengeance." It really is just that good. "Razamanaz" is a Nazareth cover.