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Darkestrah - Embrace of Memory CD (album) cover



Experimental/Post Metal

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Prog Sothoth
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This collection of tracks by German act Darkestrah seems to be an attempt to capture that vibe that was abundant from around 1993 to 1995 in Norway. It's typical black metal with some keyboards and a little bit of orchestral sounds & an occasional guest cello; more adventurous than the primitive garage & basement brand of black metal, but certainly no more exploratory than what many groups such as Emperor, Enslaved and Satyricon were doing back then. Probably the most interesting aspect of this group is that the vocalist is female, although her "alley cats fighting" shriek possesses little variation in tone and emotion. She's basically just not in a good mood.

The music isn't particularly complex or technical, with lots of simple riffing and tremolo picking, although on a few occasions there are a few nice melodic guitar passages overlaying the general din. The drums are decent and sometimes creative, and the listener understands this because they are the dominant instrument production-wise. This actually has a negative effect on the music, as much of the guitar chord patterns are muffled and absorbed by abundant double bass drum pounding thanks to some odd mixing choices and too much reverb in general. The bass drum seems to provide the "bass" in general since it's difficult to decipher if a bass guitarist is even present. The sudden moments of cello and softer sequences offer a bit of relief and variety, plus the songs have enough varying tempos so as not to be merely a blur of blastbeats, which actually aren't the prominent velocity levels of most of these songs. There's a bit of folkish touches here and there as well, but these elements are never a focal point and tend to feel like quick little breathers between the walls of sound.

Granted, the band is pretty much a black metal act, complete with each band member possessing a demonic sounding one word alias and corpse-paint. Combined with a creepy album cover and a bizarre band logo, this sort of thing would be sure to terrify soccer moms everywhere who think Norah Jones sold her soul to the devil when she released The Fall, but to fans of progressive rock and metal, this doesn't really have much to offer as far as anything particularly inventive (the song I remember most is the final track since it sounded quite similar to the opening main track but with three minutes of campfire sounds tacked on at the song's end) or unique. I will give the band at least a little credit for being influenced by the age of black metal when many of the groups were branching out to incorporate a few aspects of other genres into their overall sound to add atmosphere to their work, before it became uncool when certain more polished acts achieved some level of fame in the late 90s. Unfortunately, other than that, I can't really recommend this, certainly for those looking for proggish metal, but reading that Epos seems to be much more of a progressive work, I may give that album a shot at some point.

Report this review (#496256)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Compared to their first and third albums, Embrace of Memory comes across as being a bit musically regressive. It's pretty clearly the band's tribute to the Norwegian second wave of black metal, and it does an admirable job capturing the inhumanly cold atmosphere the best of those bands managed. The album isn't completely comprised of straight-ahead blasting; several songs (particularly the lengthier ones like "Akyr Zaman" and "Primitive Dance") have substantial dynamic shifts throughout their running time, and the album incorporates instruments like violins and various Kyrgyz folk instruments at various times.

However, this is first and foremost a black metal album. It has the atmosphere of old-school black metal and many of the songs have the structure of old-school black metal. It also has the filthy production of the genre; the drum performance is superb, but the bass-heavy drum mix means that it's frequently difficult to hear the bass player at all (though this is nothing new for black metal). It's a solid example of what it is, but whether a listener will enjoy it depends entirely on whether they enjoy old-school black metal. If you like old-school Enslaved, old-school Satyricon, old-school Emperor, and other bands of that nature, this is for you.

Report this review (#1556766)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2016 | Review Permalink

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