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Diabolical Masquerade - Death's Design CD (album) cover


Diabolical Masquerade

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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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!

Report this review (#68713)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
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).

Report this review (#80782)
Posted Friday, June 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
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.

Report this review (#83794)
Posted Saturday, July 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
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.

Report this review (#455473)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.
Report this review (#768920)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The last album by the black metal experimental one-man lineup is the most experimental and incoherent at the same time. Having no less than 61 songs to cover 43 minutes, you may want to listen to this digitally and reduce the pauses between the songs to keep a better focus on the music. So which of the 61 tracks is the best one? Hmm, the repertoire is so wildly different that it is not easy to remember the motives of all tracks. Instead of developing patterns, the composer decided to come up to quantity of sketches reaching such diverse poles like world music, electronic, psychedelia, progressive metal, jazz metal or folk. Quite some track seem to have nothing to do with the rest, there is hardly any continuous development.

It is indeed a collection of ambitious parts but it fails to deliver as a whole entity.

Report this review (#2672048)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Review Permalink

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