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Thy Darkened Shade – Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet Award winner

Thy Darkened Shade
Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet
by Julius "Dreadheart" Mikkelä at 28 October 2014, 6:07 AM

The relationship between Heavy Metal and the occult goes back all the way to the very first BLACK SABBATH album, and has since then grown to be a common theme in all of Heavy Metal music. Black Metal in particular has developed a relationship with the occult as its prime, and arguably only, source of thematic and lyrical inspiration through an almost uniform fascination with the Biblical antagonist Satan. This relationship with the Lord of Hell, and indeed the occult in general, is rarely explored in any noteworthy depth though, and is more often than not used as little more than a hollow front to produce shocking and anti-religious music.

However, not all Black Metal bands take this relationship quite so lightly, and in my opinion the music almost always benefits when the occult and satanic inspirations aren’t just an excuse, but the actual source and drive of the band. Most noteworthy of which is probably the late and legendary DISSECTION and its spiritual successor WATAIN who instead of merely spewing anti-religious Black Metal of the highest class incorporated their own beliefs into their music and as a result brought it to an entirely new level. While there certainly are many who claim to have a genuine satanic or occult faith, the vast majority of those aren’t quite as devout in their beliefs as they’d like to believe. One recent exception to this is the Greek band THY DARKENED SHADE, and they, like the late DISSECTION (among others), show that when you start to take your inspirations a little more seriously, the music tends to get a whole lot better.

Spawned in Athens back in 1999, THY DARKENED SHADE is in terms of having an occult faith being the real deal and they have a very close relationship with the Order of Promethean Fyre, whose beliefs and tenants their music revolve around. It took until 2012 to release their debut album “Eternvs Mox, Nex Ritvs”, which as far as Black Metal debuts go was pretty good with some welcome influences from both Epic and Progressive music on top of their somewhat old-school Black Metal style, kind of like the earlier BEHEMOTH albums but with more Progressive elements. Since then the band has been working on their 2014 follow-up “Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet,” and as far as I’m concerned it’s not only a flat improvement over their debut, but also one of the best Black Metal releases of 2014.

The first and foremost difference between “Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet” and its predecessor is the production value. Where the debut was, as is the case with nearly all Black Metal, a distorted mess; “Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet” is a well-produced (but not over-produced) success story.  The boosted production quality opens up for the Epic and Progressive elements to really come forward and bring the music up to a whole new level, placing it several levels above most of its competitors. The band seem to have taken a few important cues in terms of its Epic and almost quasi-Symphonic elements from the mighty THERION, who although having abandoned its Black Metal roots long ago is still among the foremost in both occult and Symphonic music – and THY DARKENED SHADE only benefits from it.

The album lasts a rather impressive 1 hour and 18 minutes over the course of the 11 tracks of extremely varying length, ranging from short intros and interludes like “Holy Lvcifer” and the very THERION-inspired “Black Light of Sitra Ahra”, to 11 minute monsters like the title track “Liber Lvcifer” or the mighty beast that is “Saatet-ta Renaissance” (both are contesters for best track on the album), so expect to have a lot of Progressive nuances to play around with. Each song is a weight-puller in its own right and even manages to reach that ever-so-difficult level of being distinct enough to actually remember, a feat rarely seen in Black Metal who often struggles with writing distinct and memorable music. Now I can’t say I found any song being so good that it immediately struck me the way just about every single song by BEHEMOTH, EMPEROR, DISSECTION and WATAIN does, but that’s also what distinguishes the masters from even the greatest of adepts.

What I found rather interesting though throughout the album is that not only does it manage to incorporate a lot of dynamic and Progressive music along with its Epic influences, but it also manages to stay distinctly Black Metal; something that DIMMU BORGIR among others never quite got the hang of but that the likes of EMPEROR and DISSECTION mastered. As such this is a genuine Black Metal album in its core and never strays from it despite its many outside influences, and although I’m generally a critic of the genre, I have in the end nothing bad to say about THY DARKENED SHADE’s “Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet.” While there’s still room for improvement, it’s no longer about getting good or getting great, it’s now about attaining true mastery of the Black Metal arts. If you’re into Black Metal, you shouldn't miss out on this monster of an album, because not only is it among the best Black Metal albums of 2014, but it could also very well be the predecessor of a yet unwritten modern Black Metal masterpiece.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Holy Lvcifer
2. Revival through Arcane Skins
3. Elixir of Azazel
4. Black Light of Sitra Ahra
5. Or She-ein bo Mahshavah
6. Nox Profunda
7. Drayishn-I Ahriman o Divan
8. Saatet-ta Renaissance
9. Liber Lvcifer
10. Deus Absconditus
11. Δαήμων Ὁ Φώσφορος
Lineup:
The A - Vocals
Semjaza - Lead, rhythm, acoustic guitars, 8 & 6 string bass, mantras & qliphotic ambience
Record Label: W.T.C. Productions
     


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Edited 02 February 2023
 

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