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Dunkelnacht - Empires of Mediocracy

Dunkelnacht
Empires of Mediocracy
by Chris Hawkins at 04 March 2019, 3:42 PM

DUNKELNACHT, meaning “dark night,” is a French band that formed fifteen years ago.  When they started out, their music was classified as dark ambient.  Along the way, though, they have morphed into a Black Metal band.  “Empires of Mediocracy” is their third full-length.

Relentless Compendium,” the first track, makes it abundantly clear immediately that these guys play in a very, very low tuning.  A whole different part of the ear is required to process the riffs being played so low.  Through diversity, they keep things interesting, though, utilizing pitch shifters for odd intervals and harmonies.  There is almost an air of a dark carnival akin to many of the bands of the late 1990s, COVENANT and ARCTURUS to name a couple, whose roots were proper Black Metal.  Clearly, the band has a firm grasp on musicality and the tools to achieve art that is devoid of the ordinary.

The third track, “Eerie Horrendous Obsession,” has an immediately infectious vibe.  Instantly, the listener is reminded of 1980s Gothic Rock in the way the first riff is crafted by using catchy melody with an increased tempo.  Modern bands such as TRIBULATION and GRAVE PLEASURES definitely come to mind.  There is still plenty of the extreme here.  Blast beats are utilized particularly well as transitional methods.  What the band does seem to have going for it is the ability to introduce myriad parts without causing the song to feel cluttered.  Instead, what they achieve is a composition that holds the listener’s attention firmly and one that has plenty to offer long after the first several listens.

Fifth track “Verses and Allegations” begins with an exposition of lightning-fast tremolo picking.  Listening to the chord progressions, it is fascinating how they can tie roots of major chords embellished by minor arpeggios.  The end result is a darkened musical endeavor that is pleasing to the ear that has been trained by lifetime exposure to Western music.  The syncopated breakdown toward the latter half of the song shows their predilection for aggression while the solo formed out of it is gushing with melodic splendor.  The more atonal riffs toward the end prove the band showed up for MORBID ANGEL day in Metal class.  The title track is next and is the longest of the album at just over eight minutes.  Contained within is the same level of variance shown throughout, though perhaps to an even greater extent.  After switching between faster parts and slower ones more rooted in the low notes, the halfway mark sees the band drop out for a bit of interlude which breathes new life into the song.

A huge advantage of this album is the production.  The guitar, which is at the least a down-tuned seven string, is devoid of muddiness.  The genre’s standard of nimble fret work and penchant for clear articulation in the picking hand are maintained.  Of course, the drums are absolutely massive.  From the kick drum to the smallest cymbal, all are replicated with pristine clarity.  The secret weapon seems to be the bass.  While other similar bands choose to bury the low end in the mix, DUNKELNACHT thankfully gives it its own space for creativity which is to the ultimate advantage of the larger work.

What is most appealing about this band is the level of musicianship.  The clichés are avoided, but not so much as to alienate the audience in some quest for a unique left-field identity.   Fans of BELPHEGOR, BEHEMOTH, and DARK FUNERAL should definitely pick this up as they are sure not to be disappointed.  The final product displays a firm grasp of musical knowledge.  One has to know the rules in order to know how to break them.  With an extensive knowledge of theory, DUNKELNACHT shows how fun breaking the rules truly is.  After all, isn’t that what Heavy Metal is all about?

Songwriting:   7
Originality:  7
Memorability:  7
Production:  8



 

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Prosper in the Path
2. Servants
3. Eerie Horrendous Obsession
4. Dunkelnacht – Amongst the Remnants of Liberty
5. Verse and Allegations
6. Empires of Mediocracy
7. The Necessary Evil
8. Non Caminus Surdis
 
Lineup:
Heimdall – Guitars, Programmings
Alkemohr – Bass, Backing Vocals
M.C. Abagor – Lead Vocals
Tegaarst – Drums
 
Record Label: Non Serviam Records
     


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Edited 26 March 2019
 

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