Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Darkness Ablaze - Shadowreign

Band: Darkness Ablaze
Album: Shadowreign
Year: 2010
Genre: Melodic Death/Black

Metal Archives classifies Darkness Ablaze as melodic black metal but I think it’s safe to say they stray further into the realm of melodic death than black. Maybe it’s because of the keyboards that are sometimes used to give a symphonic sort of feeling in the background. There are also some viking/folk influences as well.

First of all no, there is no pig in the band. Yes those pig squeals are made by vocalist Theodoros Georgitsaros and yes they are annoying. What? You thought pig squeals are confined mostly to deathcore bands? Me too, guess we were both in for a surprise. Ok so maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t been used so heavily. There is admittedly another more black metal like higher pitched growl present here and it comes off far better. Next time stick to the highs ok Theo?

The riffs aren’t really all that memorable except in a few places. Listen to Zero, and The Might of Repression: the solos aren’t that involved and really don’t add much to the songs overall. The one in The Might of Repression isn’t terrible. Like I was saying there are a few instances of good riffs on the album. The lead harmonies on Enclosure No. 7 are pretty good. But there is also the fact that the way in which the twin leads are written makes them sound like they are coming from a metalcore band which may or may not affect your feelings about them.

Then you have the main riff from the track Reduced to a Beast which sounds like it was ripped out of an Amon Amarth song. The folky elements seep into tracks like Enlightened by Shadows, where there is a nice 10 second acoustic intro before you are sonically raped by squealed vocals, and the interlude called…Interlude! Quite clever weren’t they? The acoustic guitars are used more in Interlude and oddly enough it just might be the best song on the album clocking in at 2 minutes long. Not a good sign. There are some other good electric guitar riffs here as well.

Keyboards, love’em or hate’em they’re there. While in general I usually feel they foul up heavy music the band actually uses it pretty well throughout Shadowreign. Whether they are playing as strings, horns/trumpets, or just providing ambient noise, it works!

One of the most memorable moments of Shadowreign though has to come on the song The Might of Repression. The majority of the song itself is actually what you hear on the rest of the album but there is around 2 minutes in the middle of the song that are actually quite epic. It quiets down and an acoustic guitar plays underneath an almost 80s like ballady riff. Sure the piggy growls are used but they actually lack the squeal which makes it tolerable. After a line is growled it is repeated over a few times with cleans and I have to say this is the part that really kills. Theo’s cleans are really good and are emotional without being wimpy, probably because he seems to sing with a deeper voice.

So Darkness Ablaze really brings nothing new to the table besides having a sweet name that makes no sense. Sure there are cool moments on the album but that’s the problem, they are confined to moments and not entire songs. It comes off as pretty standard melodic death metal for the most part. The vocals really destroy most of the redeeming factors here. Like I said earlier had the pig squeals been used not at all or even kept to a minimum it might have been different. But they weren’t and it makes the album a difficult listen. If you are looking for good melodic death metal (or black metal for that matter) there are far better places to look.

Score: 4/10
Standout Track: Interlude

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