Darkenhöld – Castellum (Review)

Darkenhold

Darkenhöld are from France and this is their third album.

They play Dark Black Metal with a strong melodic sensibility; this is a band who are comfortable adding a Blackened melodicism to their sound whilst retaining their core of grim fire.

This is Atmospheric Black Metal without being ostentatious or flashy. The band have a firm grasp on this side of things and although the keyboards and enhancements are an integral part of their identity they know how to control them and reign them in for full impact.

Somewhat of a cross between Dimmu Borgir and Naglfar, they join the ranks of some excellent recent Atmospheric Black Metal releases by the likes of Akrotheism, Imperial Conquest, Rauhnåcht, Unfathomed of Abyss, and others, proving that the style is alive, healthy and vibrant.

This style of Black Metal always takes me back to the mid/late 90’s and Castellum is no exception. This is a very enjoyable listen and the songs seem to roll out of the speakers with an easy flow, to be welcomed like old friends that you’re always happy to see.

Give them a listen.

Imperial Conquest – Hammerûn: Monarch of Serpents (Review)

Imperial ConquestImperial Conquest are from the US and play Black Metal. This is their début album.

This is upbeat and grim Black Metal with fantastic symphonic accompaniment. The Metal is hot out of the furnace and is likely to melt flesh upon contact.

The symphonic elements are very well-performed and are a highlight for me. They’re subtle enough most of the time that they become fully enmeshed with the music so that it sounds like a natural part of the band’s repertoire, yet when needed it comes out to the fore and really adds its weight to proceedings.

The symphonic effects really are a master-stroke for this band as they’re not overwrought, perfectly fit with the music and are very well delivered. Considering this part of the style usually just sounds tacked on for most bands of this ilk, having it completely engrained with the rest of the music is no mean feat. Impressive.

The songs as a whole are full of dynamics and have an epic streak to them that never becomes overblown. The music is dark and suitably Blackened, but the relentless riffs and the symphonic keyboards allow the band to work with a rich palette and each track is extremely enjoyable because of this.

The vocals are scything high-pitched screams and the album features guests from Promethean Horde. Nothing not to like here!

I’ve really enjoyed this album. It has almost the perfect ratio of beauty to ugliness, with the symphonic elements being particularly stunning, especially as they sound so damn good set against the rest of the pitch black music.

Very highly recommended. In fact, go and get this right now.