The Dutch city of Tilburg is world-renowned for its heavy guitar music – hence a music festival like Roadburn. From these fertile grounds rose contemporary metal outfit AUTARKH in 2019 – a group of musical adventurers dedicated to pushing the boundaries of their artistic development. AUTARKH is the brainchild of Michel Nienhuis, founding member
In 2019, Nienhuis teamed up with producer Joris Bonis (DODECAHEDRON, ULSECT), guitarist/producer David Luiten (INFERUM) and electronics wizard Tijnn Verbruggen, musicians with backgrounds ranging from metal to techno. AUTARKH’s first full-length album Form In Motion was released on 12 March 2021 by Season Of Mist. For their live
performances, bass player Desmond Kuijk (DEAR MOTHER) was added to the line-up in 2020 and quickly became a permanent member of the band.
In terms of both sound and lyrics, Form In Motion feels like an evolution in from the two albums Nienhuis released with DODECAHEDRON. Musically, because of the radical approach the band takes with their rhythm section: IDM-style beats, glitch effects and percussion are perfectly balanced with crushing riffs and vocals that range from dark growls and tormented screams to exciting harmonies. Lyrically, because the album is more about a personal experience of human nature and the nature of the universe.
"The ambitious avant-garde metal release feels remarkably heavy, the rhythms feel off-kilter yet ambitious, providing somewhat of a psychedelic edge for the musical journey." – Caleb R. Newton, New Noise (US), 2021
Circularity has become a key component of how these musicians look at and deal with their artistic content: an alternative three-piece band called AUTARKH III was founded in 2021 with Luiten, Verbruggen and Nienhuis reimagining their existing work in a different musical context. AUTARKH III focuses on ambient and drone atmospheres, abstract sound collages, improvisation and heavier down-tempo arrangements while experimenting with inverted
storylines and rearranged AUTARKH themes. Their Roadburn Redux 2021 recording was released on 22 April 2022 by Roadburn Records. New material is on its way.
AUTARKH continues its approach of inner exploration and recontextualization on its sophomore full-length album Emergent. This album delivers increased versatility and contrast, and sees the band expand towards more uplifting and consonant territories. On Emergent, composers Nienhuis’s and Luiten’s statements capture the same capriciousness and unease of Form In Motion, this time leaving a more open, diverse and radiant imprint. Emergent will be released by Season Of Mist on 10 November 2023.
Form In Motion explored the boundaries of sonic extremes; Roadburn Redux 2021 showed subtlety, introversion and contrast; and Emergent sheds a brighter light on the inner self and exposes it to the world with intensity and conviction. Through these works, the AUTARKH collective shows diversity and nuance while preserving their intense and razor-sharp edge. With performances at Roadburn (NL) in 2021 and 2022, Dutch television show Muziekstad and Hellfest (FR) in 2022, 3 releases in 3 years on 2 labels and numerous press features praising their artistic endeavors, the collective shows their vivid imagination and serious work ethic – and they are just getting started. Immerse yourself in this radical exploration of sonic and spiritual ideas and get inspired by what they have to offer.
"And I’ll call it now: given the time to flourish and sink into the ears of an audience, Autarkh will become highly influential on the next generation of extreme metal." – Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader (US), 2021