15 June 2016

Darkend - The Canticle Of Shadows

This album is the last of the Black Metal based albums that Eddie had given me to review, following Ashbringer and Mesarthim. It's not a genre I have much to do with on the whole, I'm not a massive fan but it's been an interesting and enjoyable experience to listen to something new. 

Of the three bands, Darkend are the only one I'd previously heard of and are much more rooted in the traditional Black Metal sound the the others. That's not to say they're unoriginal or generic by any means, they just have the imagery and the look. Musically, there's a whole load of things going on. The band themselves describe their sound as Extreme Ritual Metal rather than just Black Metal. It fits them pretty well.

The album opens with some ominous piano before Clavicula Salomonis abruptly kicks off. It's harsh and heavy but there's melody in there too. The piano and symphonic elements are present throughout and give the song an epic feel. Animae's vocal alternate rapidly between harsh, Black Metal screams and the guttural roar of Death Metal. He also uses spoken word to great effect. The song itself takes a few turns throughout that keeps it's seven minutes interesting.One thing that becomes noticeable right away is the production. It's crisp, clear and warm and it gives the music that much more impact.

The next song is Of The Defunct that follows a similar pattern to Clavicula Salomanis, It begins with footsteps, a creaky door and monks chanting, then the song starts with slow sweeping guitars ofset with crushing blastbeats. The vocals are drawn out and demonic which leads me to believe it's actually guest vocalist Attila Csihar (of Mayhem, Aborym etc). He's apparently the first of four guest vocals on this album, which seems excessive when there's only seven songs anyway. To be honest, I know I'm not an aficionado of this genre but, after several listens through I'm still not sure where the guests crop up or which of them is which. Anyway, I digress. Of The Defunct is just under nine minutes but it doesn't seem to drag its heels or meander along at all. About halfway through, everything drops away and in its stead there's just the sounds of someone digging (a grave?) and occasional single notes of a piano. Gradually strings build up with a tune very similar to the intro of Clavicula Salomanis. It works great to build atmosphere. The song as a whole is excellent.

Following that is a song with the unwieldy title of  A Precipice Towards Abyssal Caves (Inmost Chasm, I). It kicks straight off with breakneck riffing that almost immediately is replaced with acoustic guitar and, oh no wait we're off again! After that it's a sprint to the finish in as brutal a way as possible. There's blastbeats aplenty throughout. Oh but what's this? after four minutes or so the riffery slows to a chug and, of all things, the distinct wailings of a saxophone pipe up. It sounds weird, incongruous but oddly not out of place.

Next is Il Velo Delle Ombre the shortest song on the album that again starts slowly with just strings and vocals. Animae growls along with the monk chants also making an appearance. This continues until after a couple of minutes the band crunch in and the symphonics ramp up. It's quite a slow song compared to the rest. It also apparently features guest vocals from Labes C.N. from Abymal Grief but I didn't notice! I think that Animae does utilise several vocal styles is making harder to tell what's him and what's the guest vocalist. I'm not just me being woefully inadequate. I hope.

Next up is the song with an even more unwieldy song title than A Passage Through Abyssal Caverns (Inmost Chasm, I). It goes by the cumbersome name of A Passage Through Abysmal Caverns (Inmost Chasm, II). This song features the vocals of  Niklas Kvarforth (From the Swedish Black metal band Shining not the Norwegian Progressive Black Jazz Metal Shining.) He's a little easier to pick out than the others as there's some nice vocal interplay between the two of them. I'm assuming that's hin, I'm going to to look even more stupid if it's not! It's a surprisingly linear song for one that's almost nine minutes long and could maybe have done to have lost a couple of them. It's still pretty good though,

The penultimate song is Sealed In Black Moon and Saturn. There's not much in the way of abruptly quiet passages or an atmospheric intro, just full on pounding attack, tempered somewhat by the dramatic symphonics. That said it does drop out a little towards the end. It's the perfect mix of aggression and menace. I like this song a lot.

The final song then is Congressus Cum Dæmone and this one features the final guest vocalist in Sakis Tolis from Rotting Christ. The opening twin guitar leads is very Power Metal but they don't stay long. The song as a whole is quite a subdued end to the album;the blastbeats are still there but the rest of the song is restrained, slow and melodic. It's actually quite a dramatic end to the album as the song feel very apocalyptic.

Darkend might not be a band I'd normally listen to and lurk in a genre I don't normally have much dealings with but I enjoyed The Canticle Of Shadows a lot. It's well done, interesting and damn heavy, Some of the songs could do to be a little shorter and if the guests vocalists were hard to pick out then maybe they were unnecessary and the band should rely on their own talents rather than bringing in big (relatively speaking) names to garner attention. They have more than enough talent on their own,

7 out of 10 - This is good and well worth a check

Best Track - Sealed In Black Moon And Saturn

You can listen to The Canticle Of Shadows on Spotify HERE

You can buy it from Bandcamp HERE

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