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Darkenhöld - Castellum

by Tom Colyer at 17 October 2014, 4:57 PM

It can be quite easy to brush off Black Metal as being pretty much played out these days. There are only so many forests you can run around screaming about Cthulu and his ilk. I suppose this is why the Satanic side of music is starting to wear thin with a lot of people and lets face it, nobody does it as well as the Scandinavians anyway so why bother? As strange as it may seem, it doesn't have to be all death and dark ones and DARKENHÖLD prove that point nicely with their relatively upbeat take on the genre. They have replaced forests for castles and summoning rituals for ancient trolls and golems. In a way this is all much truer to the original foundations of the style anyway, hearkening back to Varg Vikernes's obsession with the Tolkien mythos and old Norse gods, only without the underlying Neo-Nazi themes.

The third full-length studio album from the band is set in a world of citadels, castles and legendary beasts that is laced with enchantment and drenched in a fair dose of Black Metal mist. The album does a good job of conjuring up the imagery intended and I could swear there was a point when I was expecting a unicorn to come bounding out of a blackened forest at the edge of the castle grounds with the flag of the enemy stronghold wreathed around its neck in blood. Although I do have a bit of an over active imagination and could quite possibly have just been hallucinating a little. Nonetheless, some of the musical themes explored within the album are very refreshing to hear in Black Metal and they seem to have borrowed a few from the more medieval based Battle Metal camps. The intro to “Glorious Horns” is great, it does sound a little like the kind of MIDI horns you would find on an old PC release of Final Fantasy VII but it serves its purpose well and really sets the music back in the days when Kings rode out to parley before battle. The guitar work is, for Black Metal very good throughout the album and the individual riffs are pretty distinguishable. It is difficult to really go on about the musicianship as it is all there, each piece required to make high quality authentic sounding Black Metal fits into place and the whole is definitely equal to the sum of its parts. What I really loved was the mid-album break with “Feodus Obitus”. I am a sucker for deep instrumentals and this one sounds like the theme song from The Exorcist, with a more intricate structure.

Overall, this is a good album. Don't expect revolutionary music or groundbreaking production because you'll be disappointed. If you are just looking for an easy listen and 45 minutes of something little less demonic than your usual tastes then this is the one for you.

3 Star Rating

1. Strongholds Eternal Rivalry
2. Le Castellas Du Moine Brigand
3. Majestic Dusk Over The Sentinels
4. Glorious Horns
5. Feodus Obitus
6. Le SoufSouffle Des Vieilles Pierres
7. L'incandescence Souterraine
8. Mountains Wayfaring Call
9. The Bulwarks Warlords
10. Medium Aevum
Aboth - Drums
Aldébaran - Guitars
Cervantes - Vocals
Record Label: Those Opposed Records


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Edited 20 September 2019

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