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Dark Embrace - Dark Heavy Metal

Dark Embrace
Dark Heavy Metal
by Kevin Lewis at 24 March 2023, 5:33 AM

DARK EMBRACE emerged in 2000, bringing forth a new darkness for a new millennium. Over the course of time, they’ve shifted from a Gothic Doom sound to a more Melodic Death offering. Hailing from Spain, which has a rich history with Gothic era architecture and some of the best Heavy Metal anywhere in the world, they are placing their personal stamp on the music industry with their blending of styles. Their third full-length album, Dark Heavy Metal, was released via Massacre Records on February 24, 2023.

This album opens with a falsetto scream that is pretty impressive! It opens the title track, which is all about having a love for this style of music. With layered and backing vocals, heavy-riffed guitars, blast beats, and a sonic boom of a bass line, it is the love of not just Metal, but “Dark Heavy Metal” that draws us all together. Then, “Never Seen The Sun” begins with delicate keyboard tones before the guitars come crashing in. There’s a drop for another quick piano fill, then the song properly kicks off. Snowy Shaw has not lost a single bit of his speed or accuracy. He really drives the tempo of this album from start to finish, setting the pace Kike Vilar as they run this record like a thoroughbred at a racetrack.

Mou Trashno and Markos Villar are a two-pronged assault. Whether harmonizing on a riff or dueling through the solo section, they work in tandem, playing off each other expertly. After the piano intro to “Metal Is Religion,” they launch into a killer, chugging riff that has a rhythm underneath that is a bit different. The drums have some off beat spots in the pattern, adding some tension and intrigue to the song. Then the next track, “Life And Legacy” is a ripper from the first notes. Oscar Rilo has a very unique voice, and this is a song that really highlights it. He has a different tone to his power notes, whether screaming or belting, he has fry vocals he uses at times, them he has some lower register clean notes that are nothing like either of the other styles. It’s like he has three separate voices.

The song that surprises me most on this disc is “This Is the Rain.” It’s reliant on piano for the main phrase with very little guitar work at all. It’s a ballad, all clean vocals, with killer guitar solos. The drumming is almost a military march pattern. This is the song that shows DARK EMBRACE is more than fury and worship of Heavy Metal. They have a darkly soft side that is haunting, eerie, and quite beautiful in that darkness. The closing track, “Bitter End MMXXII” is a melodic, guitar-driven song that goes over seven minutes. There is more dissonance between riff and drum beat, the vocals are often harsh, but they do shift to the lower end register, even for the belted notes. The discordant piano tones add a cool layer to the track, giving the song a wider range of sounds and textures.

DARK EMBRACE is not an easy band to categorize, which is a good thing. You still hear the Gothic tones, though they are more in the Death and Thrash Metal styles than Doom. You still hear Doom Metal in some of the vocal delivery, so they have not entirely forsaken their roots. Some of the guitar work brings to mind the NWOBHM dual-guitar assaults of old. These guys are not tied to one specific sound, instead going for a creative mixture that crosses multiple genres.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Dark Heavy Metal
2. Never Seen The Sun
3. Personal Hell
4. Endless Months
5. Metal Is Religion
6. Life And Legacy
7. This Is The Rain
8. Time Is Telling
9. Bitter End MMXXII
Oscar Rilo – Vocals
Kike Vilar – Bass
Snowy Shaw – Drums
Mou Trashno – Guitar
Markos Villar – Guitar
Record Label: Massacre Records


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