We last caught up with Darkenhöld on 2014’s Castellum, although the band haven’t been doing nothing in the past six years; they’ve had an another album and a split release with Griffon since then. Darkenhöld specialise in old-school black metal with a medieval theme, the sort played with an emphasis on both melody and symphonic grandeur. The band’s folk influences are readily apparent, informing the medieval theme they have adopted as their own.
The symphonic elements are bombastic and epic, without ever becoming annoyingly ostentatious. They’re relatively restrained in the sense of how showy they are, but they’re a huge part of what makes Darkenhöld Darkenhöld, and I like what they bring to the music. Indeed, without them, the band would be a very, very different proposition. As it is, Darkenhöld’s melodic symphonic appeal is strong. The album sounds like it is a long lost gem from the 90s, which is no bad thing for this type of release.
There’s more to Darkenhöld than just melodies and keyboards though, and the songs have a wealth of engaging content to explore. Whether this is a striking riff, a satisfying drum fill, or a particular vocal pattern, there’s plenty of meat on Arcanes & Sortilèges to go around.
Arcanes & Sortilèges is a enjoyable old-school album from a band that are obviously very good at what they do. Darkenhöld have a clear vision for their art, and they deliver this vision with skill.
A recommended listen for sure.