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Darkest End – Winter's Blood

Darkest End
Winter's Blood
by Santiago Puyol at 19 January 2020, 7:13 AM

Greek Melodic Death Metal band DARKEST END released their debut EP "Winter’s Blood" on Dec. 2019, a five-track, 26-minute debut filled with classic Melodeath stuff (AT THE GATES and WOLFHEART are clear influences), with just a tingle of Prog, Post-Rock and Gothic influences.

Opener "Lost & Astray" kicks things off with a melodic, introspective and vaguely nostalgic clean guitar. Things quickly morph into a heavier sound, with solid harsh vocals that sound just a little grainy because of the mix. Some very dynamic drumming by solid session player Kostas Tsifopoulos keeps things in motiong atop catchy if unmemorable riffing. The track takes an interesting shift on the second half, instilling a dash of Prog Metal influence with its moving patterns and some truly nasty soloing.

"Raven Cry" comes next, making a picturesque use of the delay pedal, in an almost Post-Rock fashion. One of the tightest tracks on the EP when it comes to songwriting. There are clear Gothic undertones that blossom into the climax of the track, especially in the mix of beautiful choruses and female vocals towards the end. A driving, powerful track makes sure the more melodic sections flow better with the heavier stuff than on most of "Winter’s Blood". Some tasty and memorable guitar melodies appear on the subtly theatrical "Cybele". Vocalist Kostas Lolis shows some range and creativity adding both spoken word and unsettling whispers, adding a dramatic flair, in the best of ways, feeling urgent and a bit unhinged. Eva Stamati once again provides a lovely counterpoint to Lolis.

"Live Again" stands as the less bleak track when it comes to sound, living up to its name with its slightly uplifting melodies. Steven Ouzo shows again his skills when it comes to guitar soloing, delivering the best solo on the EP, with a rich tone that hits the right spots emotionally. Closer "Downfall" moves in typical Melodeath approach save for its tight groove and slightly ambient guitar textures. It gets a lot more interesting with the fun, if short, instrumental jam it features on the last third. Another reprise of the chorus gets things to an end, feeling a tad anticlimactic. Still a dependable track.

Overall, DARKEST END show they are a skilled band with some interesting ideas waiting to fully form into a proper voice. There is tight drumming and solid riffing on "Winter’s Blood", even if the riffs are not always that memorable or unique. The clean and melodic guitar work feels actually more interesting most of the time. There are some production issues too, especially with the mixing of Stamati’s vocals. For some reason they sound like coming from inside of a cage, something a little frustrating considering they add a nice contrast to the harsh vocals by Lolis. It would be interesting to hear more of Lolis’ cleans too, in a more confident way as they sound a little hesitant, but that is a minor nitpick considering they barely appear.

"Winter’s End" shows potential and promise for DARKEST END.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Lost & Astray
2. Raven Cry
3. Cybele
4. Live Again
5. Downfall
Kostas Lolis – Vocals
Stefanos "Steven Ouzo" Ouzounidis – Guitars/Bass
Eva Stamati – Female vocals
Kostas Chatzopoulos – Synths/Keyboards
Kostas Tsifopoulos – Drummer
Record Label: Infinity Entertainment Group


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Edited 27 February 2021

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