K kht Ar kh is the Ukrainian project founded in 2018 by Dmitry Marchenko.
Originally released on the Finnish label Livor Mortis in 2021, Pale Swordsman goes
to even greater extents in building a bold and atmospheric sonic palette, and it's now
seeing a worldwide reissue via Brooklyn label Sacred Bones.
For the sound design of the album, Dmitry was inspired by The Stooges' Raw Power to
deliver a more soft sounding album, decisively less "metal". Traditional black metal song
structures still persist in songs like "Night Descends" and "In The Garden". However,
their rawness and fast tempos is quickly cut through by dark ambient passages in
"Amor" and "Intro" and softly played desolate ballads like "Nocturne" and "Lily".
The crown jewel is the album closer "Swordsman", a track that displays a superb gothic
sensibility, a poem recited over a deeply melancholic piano melody. "The Christian
concept of a person ridding themselves of evil to find inner peace or to be able to
leave this world safely has become the core inspiration for the song." Dmitry explains
"However, this is not the only reading possible. I purposely avoid specifics in my lyrics
so that the listener can always give the song their own meaning."
The inspiration for the concept of the album also came from David Bowie's The
Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. "I really enjoy it when an
album tells a story about some character so I came up with one." says Dmitry when
explaining the origin of the Pale Swordsman. The character is portrayed on the striking
album cover art - a figure sitting aloof with a sword and a rose in each hand - and
clearly symbolises the romantic juxtaposition of belligerence and fragile beauty that
permeates the album's sound and atmosphere.
Pale Swordsman delivers a foreboding yet bittersweet melancholy through poetic lyrics,
soft interludes, raw and distorted guitars, eerie drums and harsh vocals - a fragile yet
potent mix that successfully amplifies the ambience.