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DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden


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Diabolical Masquerade biography
While his main band KATATONIA was continuing to explore more mellow territories, guitarist Anders Nyström ("Blackheim") decided to continue making extremer metal music under a pseudonym: "Diabolical Masquerade".
Nyström's 'new' musical ideas first saw the light of day in 1996 with the release of the debut album, "Ravendusk in my Heart".

The sound of his music can be qualified as a mixture of avant-garde with melodic metal. And without any doubt I can state that Nyström's motive for composing music with this 'band' is to experiment with structures, themes and compositions of songs in general.
This is most notable on the bands last release, 2001's "Death's Design". This albums has a duration of about 42 minutes, comprising 20 movements, divided into 61 (!) tracks. Each and every single one of those tracks is an individual song with its own perspective and approach!

The music on this disc is so divers that even people who don't normally like black metal music, or maybe even metal in general, might appreciate it. The album can be seen as the fictional soundtrack to a non-existing horror film.
Telling this is actually everything that I need to tell you about the album actually, the whole of this album is one big trip that makes you feel like you are experiencing a story.

Diabolical Masquerade's albums are produced by DAN SWANÖ (Nightingale, Edge of Sanity), who is also featured on drums on 1999's "Nightwork" album and he also contributed various guitar solos.

Because of a lack of inspiration and progress Blackheim decided to stop working on Diabolical Masquerade's fifth album, which meant the definite ending of, in my opinion, one of the most inventive metal bands out there in early September 2004.

Albeit Diabolical Masquerade's roots are in black metal, this is a band that I would recommend everyone who likes (prog) rock or metal (and doesn't feel put down by black metal vocals), ambient music, classical music and even tribal music!



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Discography:
Ravendusk in my Heart, studio album (1996)
The Phantom Lodge, studio album (1997)
Nightwork, studio album (1999)
Death's Design, studio album (2001)

Diabolical Masquerade official website

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NightworkNightwork
Peaceville UK 2007
Audio CD$6.70
$5.58 (used)
Death's DesignDeath's Design
Alliance 2007
Audio CD$8.09
$12.49 (used)
Phantom LodgePhantom Lodge
Peaceville UK 2007
Audio CD$6.60
$14.39 (used)
Ravendusk in My HeartRavendusk in My Heart
Peaceville UK 2007
Audio CD$6.70
$14.39 (used)
Death DesignDeath Design
Import · Soundtrack
Avantgarde 2006
Audio CD$13.27
$9.96 (used)
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DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE discography


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DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.12 | 7 ratings
Ravendusk In My Heart
1996
3.07 | 8 ratings
The Phantom Lodge
1997
3.98 | 16 ratings
Nightwork
1999
4.24 | 78 ratings
Death's Design
2001

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DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nightwork by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 16 ratings

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Nightwork
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy

4 stars DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE is the solo project of Anders Nystrom (aka Blakkheim), known for his work as the guitarist of Katatonia. Although he is often cited as the sole performer on this side project he in fact had help from a few friends. Most notably Dan Swano from Edge of Sanity plays drums and other percussion, additional keyboards, backing vocals and is the the co-producer. Blakkheim handles the vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards. Others handle the cello and flute.

This album takes you on a stroll through the entire metal universe as it is based in old school black metal with the deranged monster vocals but much of the album also has symphonic embellishments. There are thrash metal leanings with galloping riffs, groove metal sections, traditional metal acoustic arpeggios and soloing and progressive time signatures with tons of keyboards and strange inserted extras including spoken words sounding like they are from Satan himself.

The ghostly atmospheric backings give this a really disquieting effect. The sound effects add strangeness such as a scratchy old record lp effect on 'The Zkeleton Keyz To The Dead' or avant-garde vocalizations that pop out of nowhere every so often. The formula does remind a bit of Mr Bungle or Sigh in that the styles play for a while and then shift suddenly, however, DM has a smaller palette than the aforementioned groups tending to stick to using the metal genres with only meager sprinklings of non-metal influences which places this firmly in metal territory but because these metal subgenres are usually not sewn together in such a way, also gives this album a uniqueness that I have not heard anywhere else. Cool stuff.

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 Nightwork by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 16 ratings

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Nightwork
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A solid symphonic black metal release from the Diabolical Masquerade side project, Nightwork succeeds in part because of what it isn't trying to do; presenting a brief, compact running time rather than the bloated discs often resorted to by symphonic metal bands means that the over- the-top orchestration of the album doesn't outstay its welcome. Veering deliriously between more traditional black metal sections and more symphonic moments, the album lures you in with accessible melodic black metal before slipping in a range of curious tangents that are easy to miss if the album isn't given your full attention. One that calls for repeated listens, in short, though at points it does feel a little vapid and show-offy.

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 Death's Design by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.24 | 78 ratings

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Death's Design
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Diabolical Masquerade's most widely-praised album is a rapid-fire mishmash of musical genres, presented as the soundtrack to an imaginary film. Pay little attention to the track listing, because the various movements and songs within each movement seem to have been assigned to the work arbitrarily - as arbitrary, in fact, as the shifts between genres exhibited by the work itself. It's an impressive enough stunt, though to be honest the album as a whole never really grabs me - a lot of rough ideas are presented but they're never developed to the point where they really take off. It's still an entertaining listen thanks to its rapidly-changing texture, but it does rather rely on this basic gimmick a bit too much to become a true classic.

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 Death's Design by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.24 | 78 ratings

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Death's Design
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'Death's Design' - Diabolical Masquerade (10/10)

The side project of Katatonia guitarist Anders Nystrom, Diabolical Masquerade would take a much different direction than the man's flagship band. Whereas Nystrom's may be most widely associated with doom metal or depressive rock, Diabolical Masquerade goes for a theatrical take on avant-garde black metal. Culminating in the project's final record, it is a shame that Diabolical Masquerade disbanded before a fifth release, but it is difficult to imagine a greater swansong from the band than this. With a host of classical musicians and guest artists taking part in 'Death's Design', Diabolical Masquerade has fashioned an album here that is every bit as ambitious as the other great albums in progressive metal. Self-styled as the soundtrack to some non-existent horror film, 'Death's Design' is a massive journey, every bit as cinematic as it is made out to be.

Although 'Death's Design' is split into a ridiculous amount of tracks, it is essentially one sprawling epic, much in the way of Edge Of Sanity's classic 'Crimson'. Think the black metal aspects of a band like Emperor fused with Opeth's melodic sensibilities, with the added vastness of a string section to give Diabolical Masquerade even more firepower. The first thing that arguably stands out about the record is the sheer amount of tracks it has, and this unnecessarily indulgent separation of what is otherwise a running piece of music may be the album's greatest flaw. With some tracks only being six seconds long, the sheer wonder and bewilderment as to why Blakkheim would have chopped up his masterpiece so haphazardly. From the perspective of listening to 'Death's Design' as a start-to-finish experience however, this does not affect the enjoyment, and it ultimately the only way one can go about listening to the record.

In terms of mood, things are very dark, but in a fairly different way than the sort of introspective darkness that Anders' band Katatonia conveys. Instead, the dark mood here is foreboding and very ominous; perfect for whatever imaginary film that this album could score. The entire album is tied together by a narrative and recurring musical themes; much like Edge Of Sanity's 'Crimson', once again. Most of the time, these ideas flow seamlessly from one another, each bringing a new dimension of fear or beauty to the album. Sometimes though, it does feel like Blakkheim and company forgot to add a transition here and there, or that some of the existing transitions could have been polished to lubricate the flow of the music. The musical ideas are almost constantly impressive however, so it is fairly difficult to let these minor flaws get in the way of the enjoyment.

Diabolical Masquerade has blown me away with this masterpiece of an album. Expect great things from this.

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 The Phantom Lodge by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.07 | 8 ratings

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The Phantom Lodge
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The Phantom Lodge" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Swedish black metal act Diabolical Masquerade. The album was released in 1997 by Adipocere Records.

Diabolical Masquerade is a one man black metal solo project featuring Anders Nyström (who appears here under the Blackheim name). Blackheim is the guitarist and co-founder of Swedish doom/metal legends Katatonia. Katatonia is widely considered one of the most prolific doom metal acts of the early- to mid nineties with albums such as "Dance of December Souls (1993)" and especially "Brave Murder Day (1996)". They have later pursued a more subtle progressive/alternative rock/ metal style. Anders Nyström is also a member of Swedish death metal act Bloodbath which also feature among others Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, Pan-Thy-Monium, Second Sky, Maceration, Unicorn, etc...) and Mikael Åkerfelt (Opeth).

The music that Blackheim creates for Diabolical Masquerade is very different from the sound of Katatonia, which should probably be considered his main act. Diabolical Masquerade is a vehicle for his black metal/heavy metal ideas. What you´ll be exposed to on "The Phantom Lodge" are raspy black metal vocals and lots of symphonic melodic black metal and traditional metal riffs. The traditional heavy metal is best heard in a song like "Ravenclaw" which actually reminded me a bit of the true metal style of Manowar, but early- to mid eighties thrash metal legends like Kreator, Sodom, Possessed, Slayer and Destruction are obviously a big influence too. The music on "The Phantom Lodge" is very symphonic though with lots of synth which is not a feature in the music of any of the mentioned bands. There is also a nordic folk feeling in some of the tracks which the flute playing by Tina Sahlstedt further enhances.

Blackheim is a great musician who handles both guitars, bass, keyboards/synths and vocals on the album while he is helped out by Sean C. Bates on drums and percussion. It´s great to have a "Real" drummer playing the drums as opposed to the programmed drums that somewhat mared the debut. Dan Swanö also helps out this time around, providing vocals to the track "Hater", which is another of the more traditional heavy metal sounding tracks on the album.

The production is a notch better than on the debut album but the drums still have a very strange sound to them that bothers me some. One of the greater assets when talking sound production is how well Blackheim various vocals are produced. Compared to the more lo- fi black metal productions this is a very professional and clean sound (without being polished).

If you like melodic and semi-symphonic black metal with lots of traditional heavy metal elements "The Phantom Lodge" is a recommendable listen. A 3.5 star rating is warranted.

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 Ravendusk In My Heart by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.12 | 7 ratings

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Ravendusk In My Heart
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Ravendusk in My Heart" is is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish black metal act Diabolical Masquerade. The album was released in December 1996 by Adipocere Records.

Diabolical Masquerade is a one man project band featuring Anders Nyström (who appears here under the Blackheim name). Blackheim is the guitarist and co-founder of Swedish doom/metal legends Katatonia and more recently Blackheim and Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renkse has also been involved with death metal act Bloodbath which also features Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, Unicorn, etc...) and Mikael Åkerfelt (Opeth). Blackheim is definitely one of the most prolific Swedish metal artists in the last twenty years. While Katatonia drifted further and further away from extreme metal up through the nineties Blackheim still wanted to create extreme metal music and Diabolical Masquerade was for a period the vehicle for that ambition.

The music on "Ravendusk in My Heart" is melodic black metal with lots of traditional heavy metal elements. The tempo varies and ranges from blast beats to more slower paced parts. The vocals are mainly black metal rasps and they are delivered in a convincing manner. There are some additional goth type speaking in some of the tracks and also some more traditional heavy metal vocals in the song "Under The Banner Of The Sentinel". The vocals in "Under The Banner Of The Sentinel" are actually a nice break from the more traditional black metal rasps. The vocals sound almost like Rob Halford (Judas Priest). "Under The Banner Of The Sentinel" reminds me of a band like 3 Inches of Blood. The rest of the tracks are more in a similar black metal style but they are all very melodic and quite memorable too. There are lots of keyboard backing on all songs and that places "Ravendusk in My Heart" firmly in the symphonic black metal style (well... not as symphonic as Dimmu Borgir, but symphonic never the less).

Blackheim handles the instruments well but but I wish he would have hired a "real" drummer. The drums sound programmed to me and they are actually one of the few weak things on "Ravendusk in My Heart". They are very generic and I´m not sure I hear one fill anywhere (this is strongly exaggerated of course, but you get the point). The drums drag this album down a bit even though they are not a total distraction from the music.

The production is allright and listening to this again after a couple of years has made me appreciate it a bit more in fact. It´s not excellent but definitely not bad either.

"Ravendusk in My Heart" is all in all a pretty good album by Diabolical Masquerade and if you like your black metal with lots of traditional metal virtues and symphonic keyboards I find this album recommendable. A 3 - 3.5 star rating is warranted.

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 Nightwork by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 16 ratings

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Nightwork
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by GDA9

4 stars Drawing on influences as diverse as King Diamond and Emperor, Diabolical Masquerade is a band I'd highly recommend to any serious prog-metal lover.

The use of odd time signatures, symphonic keyboard arrangements and a wide variety of outlandish avant-garde musical influences make "Nightwork" a rather interesting listen. The music here is a shifting landscape of genres, from orchestral black metal to old-school heavy metal, with plenty of room for trips into very strange musical madness. At times one will find harpsichords and glockenspiels interlacing melodic counterparts over more traditional palm-muted guitar work. The melodies here are immensely complex and unnerving in their avant-garde bombast, at times amusing in their complete freshness.

Guitars and keyboards are the driving force behind this album, all mixed with precision to create a landscape of absolute strangeness that doesn't cease to amaze the listener.

Highly recommended.

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 Death's Design by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.24 | 78 ratings

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Death's Design
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Diabolical Masquerade - Death's Design

In 2001 Diabolical Masquerade, unfortunately, released their last EVER release. This was the magnificent "Death's Design". Comprising over 60 tracks, this release simply has to be inventive and progressive in order to keep the listener's attention. And believe me Blakkheim has succeeded in that perspective. The songs vary from very melodic black metal songs, albeit mostly without the fast drumming, to little 70s symphonic rock suits.

"Death's Design" was considered to be the official soundtrack to a horror film that never saw the light of day. The music here tells a story by itself, making the whole album feeling like a unique experience and in a way, a sort of musical journey.

Parts of songs are reoccurring quite often on the album thus connecting the whole album with each other. This makes the conceptual presence even bigger. The presence of Dan Swanö is easily noticeable; he has this typical sound when he plays keyboard and guitar, you immediately recognize him.

Being a bit of a fan of progressive metal, this release simply cannot be missing in your collection. It is one of the few truly progressive albums I know and there's things for anyone to like.

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 Death's Design by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.24 | 78 ratings

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Death's Design
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Melomaniac
Prog Reviewer

5 stars An album that is as unique as it is amazing. Metal first, but highly innovative and diverse. Death, black and clean vocals, mellow and metal parts, electronic in moments, this album contains a wide spectrum of metal and prog landscapes. The quality of the songwriting is undeniable, and the execution is as good. The quantity of information here is phenomenal, so quite a few listens are recquired in order to digest it all. This album is not for the fainthearted, but the adventurous will be greatly rewarded. Truly a masterpiece, one of those one-of-a-kind albums you rarely come across (perhaps once every ten years).

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 Death's Design by DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.24 | 78 ratings

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Death's Design
Diabolical Masquerade Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by the_library_loft

5 stars "Death's Design" was the swansong for Anders Nyström's project DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE, and definitely the best. A work that combines many kinds of styles (based in Black Metal, but also contains tribal music, classical, avant-garde, ambient, etc.) and put into 20 movements (61 tracks, man!) shows the versatility and the awesome compositional level of Nyström (here with the pseudonim Blackheim).

This album made Nyström's name very respectable as a music writer, even in a major way than with his band KATATONIA, ehich we all know...

In short, "Death's Design" is a marvelous album, definitely one of the most unique and interesting albums of Extreme Metal history. And, of course, it's very Progressive!

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Thanks to king16 for the artist addition.

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