Artch was a band formed in 1982 featuring several Norwegians and an Icelandic singer called Lars Fladeby. The singer was replaced by Espen Hoff who was killed in a motorcycle accident. Another singer, one-time Eurovision contestant Eric Hawk, was soon drafted. Another Return was initially an independent release and later issued through Active Records. It also later became Another Return to Church Hill on Metal Blade. The band had signed to Metal Blade in the USA for five albums, but to Swedish label Active for only one album. Artch would see its back catalogue released by Metal Blade with bonus tracks in 2000.
2004 brought a belated DVD called Another Return Live... And Beyond. The band had a song called Another Return To Church Hill on Another Return which abbreviated becomes Artch!
Eirikur Hauksson would represent Iceland again in 2007’s Eurovision Contest with the song Valentine Lost. This was actually his third appearance at Eurovision. He had formerly sang with Icy and subsequently in 1991 for Norway with the band Just 4 Fun.
ARTCH – ANOTHER RETURN – DIVEBOMB
Artch’s debut album has long been considered a cult classic, but after listening to it, it seems that much of that is due to nostalgia. The opener, Another Return To Church Hill (which indeed spells “ARTCH”!), is great with its choirs and dark mood, but the second song is already really bad. Its title – Power To The Man – and lyrics look like Manowar at its worst. Where I Go is a good semi-ballad and Metal Life could have been an inspiration for Primal Fear. Listen to Metal Is Forever by Primal Fear, and you will know what I mean. That is it for the highlights. Now, what does Artch sound like? If there ever was a side project of musicians from Grave Digger and Vicious Rumors at the height of their careers with a Fear Of The Dark-era Bruce Dickinson as the singer, that would be Artch. Granted, Eric Hawk does not always sound like Bruce, but whenever he sings both gritty and at a high pitch, he reminds me of Dickinson on songs like From Here To Eternity. Not bad! On this album, the vocals are outstanding, but the guitar work is often monotonous and the riffs are boring. The band seems to have spent all their creative energy on the title track. Some people might like the album because it has a lot of raw power, but like on some Raven releases (another band Artch can be compared to) there is not enough variation to hold the listener’s attention. – Andreas Herzog
ARTCH – FOR THE SAKE OF MANKIND – DIVEBOMB
The second Artch album is much better than the first, at least if you like variation in the riffs and a more original vocal style. Eric Hawk does not sound like Dickinson anymore and the songs use more acoustic intros, a mix of acoustic and electric guitars, up-tempo intros for mid-tempo songs, more diverse riffs and so on. The opener is very much in the tradition of Vicious Rumors, but then the parallels stop. Appologia is very creative and the lyrics seem to be a variation on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Burn Down The Bridges is about World War II. First Russia is retreating from Germany and then Germany is retreating from Russia. Both are burning down bridges on their retreat. An unusual way to look at it! Another good song is Titanic, which is obviously about the ship of the same name. Not too many bands have written a song about it. “The Great Titanic Down” is the chorus. Not sure if the wording is correct there. “Sunk” sounds better to me – it’s a ship, not a plane. Confrontation is another cliché-free ballad. Turn The Tables has a nice up-tempo drive. Batteries Not Included is a nice take on the desire for the newest technology. We have the same thing going on today with smartphones. The Nazareth cover Razamanaz is well done, but it’s one of the weaker songs by Nazareth. Iron Savior’s cover of This Flight Tonight is much more metal. Four bonus tracks, two of them demo versions, close out the album. Artch was on the way of finding its own sound. Too bad the album came out in 1991 when Grunge was on the move and there was hardly an audience for traditional metal. The band will play some select festivals this year (2016) and who knows we might see a third album after all. – Andreas Herzog