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Darkened – Kingdom of Decay

Kingdom of Decay
by Colum Hill at 19 September 2020, 10:22 AM

DARKENED are a Death Metal band that formed in 2018, releasing their debut EP "Into the Blackness" through Chaos Records in 2019 and their first album "Kingdom of Decay" in 2020 through Edged Circles Productions. DARKENED are an “international band”, formed by members from Sweden, Canada and the UK; they could be described as a supergroup, with members and ex-members of GRAVE (Tobias Cristiansson) and BOLT THROWER (Andrew Whale), but the band don’t emphasise this in their promo material, so this is not the case of a “gimmicky” supergroup - as a band DARKENED simply focus on the music. Speaking of BOLT THROWER, they are not a bad reference point for the style of Death Metal that DARKENED play - thick, steady, stomping riffs with a war-ready militaristic feel. The riffs are straight, catchy, atmospheric and melodic - although melodic within the context of Death Metal (there is no Gothenburg-style Melodeath here). There is a doomy quality to some of the riffs too, in that they have an apocalyptic feel and are sometimes mid-paced or slow and drawn out, but not enough to really describe DARKENED as Doom Metal or “Death/Doom” band.

"Kingdom of Decay" opens with "Nekros Manteia". The listener is greeted with an acoustic guitar suggesting something darker to come as thunder tears the sky in the background. Once "Dead Body Divination" drops in, we know what we’re in for: heavy, rolling riffs like tanks over scorched battle grounds with steady, thrashy drumming and roaring vocals. "1000 Years" opens with a grandiose riff before developing into a creeping, doomy rhythmic underpinning as Gord Olson narrates in beastly tones. This takes us into one of the most powerful songs on the album, "Pandemonium" - driven by grand, majestic riffs, emphasising DARKENED’S melodic sensibilities as they effortlessly fuse the heaviness of classic old school Death Metal with epic and evocative melodies.

"The Old Ones" is a good example of DARKENED’S ‘doom-y’ style, as the track opens with slow, lurching Doom Metal riffs and steadily builds up a gloomy atmosphere backed by subtle keys. However, the slow crawl doesn’t last long as the band quickly speed up to a choppy, battle-ready tempo. The same can be said for much of the album - there are some Doom Metal-like sections, but they don’t dominate any of the tracks. "The White Horse of Pestilence" is another song that builds up its atmosphere with slow, dark Doom Metal riffs before evolving into a steady, mid-paced march and eventually blasting into a Thrash-like gallop. While the more Doom-like sections help to mix up the tempo, "Kingdom of Decay" mostly ranges between mid-paced grooves and stomps and faster, thrashier beats.

DARKENED don’t reinvent the wheel on "Kingdom of Decay", but they do play old school Death Metal highly capably. The musicianship is tight, the riffing is heavy and memorable, and the production is strong and boomy. This is Death Metal for die-hard fans that know what they like. I would recommend "Kingdom of Decay" to fans of old school Death Metal, especially the mid-paced, war-ready style of bands like BOLT THROWER as well as old school Death/Doom Metal, but really fans any kind of classic, riffy Death Metal from the 80s onwards should find something to like here.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Nekros Manteia
2. Dead Body Divination
3. 1000 Years
4. Pandemonium
5. Cage of Flesh
6. The Burning
7. The Old Ones
8. Kingdom of Decay
9. Of Unsound Mind
10. The White Horse of Pestilence
11. Winds of Immortality
Gord Olson – Vocals
Hempa Brynolfsson – Guitars
Linus Nirbrant – Guitars
Tobias Cristiansson – Bass
Andrew Whale – Drums
Record Label: Edged Circle Productions


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