Review Summary: Really enjoyable atmospheric black metal.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Atmosphere can be a pretty odd thing in music, how do you define it? You can’t, but I guarantee that almost anyone who listens to music can recognise atmospheric music, be it in your rock, punk, metal, techno, or whatever, there are always those bands who create such a vivid atmosphere that they simply drag you away to another mindscape while you are listening to their music. Dantalion are one of these bands. I have never
experienced an atmosphere quite as consistent and haunting as what these guys present in this album.
A slow, beautiful instrumental starts the album, and despite being under two minutes, you have a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the album, a haunting melody dominates the short opener, as the drumming slowly builds intensity before growing to a climax moments before the second song starts, and it begins with a bang. A agonised scream comes blaring through the speakers with a very similar melody to the opener being played at a high tempo, already, the drumming is impressive, the melody is beautiful, the vocals are tormented and the atmosphere is sombre and powerful, everything that a person like me looks for in this form of black metal. At over eight minutes long, ‘Wandering Along the Paths’ is a great introduction to the album, full of impressive melodies, galloping riffs, impressive drumming and a terrific song structure. The song flows while still maintaining interest with good tempo changes and new elements throughout. A constant and well executed variation of the tempo keeps the listener interested, and it is pleasantly surprising how well they execute this, at several moments in the eight minute song you’ll think that it has fully developed and beginning to go through the paces when a variation on one of the melodies previously heard starts playing, or the drumming gets more intense, or the bass (which is wonderfully audible throughout!) will begin to craft a new rhythm around the guitar melodies. Already on the first song you will be able to feel the atmosphere that Dantalion craft, menacing and haunting, it is the sort of music that gives the feeling of being lost and scared at night alone, it gives off an almost subduing quality, that you can’t really think of anything else while listening to it, the atmosphere is just too captivating.
But in strictly sticking to this atmosphere Dantalion reveal one of their biggest weaknesses, lack of variety. Not to say that every song sounds the same, not by a long shot, but the general formula stays the same, haunting melodies, rhythmic bass, technical drumming and the exact same vocals throughout. The vocalist’s scream is very decent, and suitable to the band’s style, but a lack of variety hurts him somewhat. Constantly in the same pitch and tempo you might get tired of them, but the melodies never get old, and that is the band’s main selling point. Fortunately though, despite the lack of variety in sound, there is plenty of variation in tempo throughout the album, ‘Prophecy Of Sorrow’ will trick you into thinking it is a typical black metal assault early on with a cold riff and powerful drumming tearing it’s way through your ears, the vocalist snarls out the lyrics with venom, and it continues for two minutes like this, only getting more and more intense before it suddenly slows down, and one of the most beautiful passages on the album commences. Acoustic guitars going hand in hand with a black metal riff and long, mournful rasps from the vocalist, soon enough though, the song blasts back into it’s previous gallop, but now it has a newer more complex melody (see what I mean with the constantly changing?), a completely new passage comes in shortly after, devoid of all melody and instead placing emphasis on the harsh riff, it doesn’t take long for the band to introduce a new melody though, and once again you are torn, ravaged and thrown around while being thoroughly enchanted by the atmosphere, and as the song slowly dies down, you want to experience it all again.
It might come as a bit of a surprise then when the next song, and best on the album, ‘Death’s Cold Layer’ comes roaring out of the speakers. Instead of a slow, atmospheric start we get a brilliant riff, not a melody, a fantastic black metal riff that soon develops into a furious yet somehow beautiful example of pure aggression, but like every track on the album it doesn’t stay like what you first might expect, no, it slows down, and brings with it some of the most haunting guitar melodies you are ever likely to hear, and the vocals are perfect for the track, with both screams and long sorrowful rasps which keep up the atmosphere, although his voice can get monotonous, he is very good at what he does, and you cannot say he is a bad vocalist, just not a varied one. Of course, the acoustic guitars play part in this song, and there are several
riffs that would simply make one song on their own, but Dantalion write so many of them that they can put a few on every song, which is thoroughly enjoyable. I feel that what is being snarled throughout the latter half of the song is particularly suitable. ’A moment of madness, or maybe, a moment of purity?’
Although it might not mean much upon reading, when you place it in middle of one of the most amazing melodies ever written and the ferocity that is being displayed alongside it at the moment, it comes off as a utterly awe-inspiring moment.
What makes this album so much more than just a spectacle of wonderful melodies is the drummer, who is absolutely fantastic on this album, and is oddly easily one of the things that you remember and just think, wow, that was great. Everything from blast beats to slow groovy fills are present, and when the album is going along at full belt, the drummer is the reason why, with brilliantly intense passages that would not sound out of place on your heaviest of death metal records.
A key element of Dantalion’s sound is their acoustic picking, which both impresses on the intro and the outro and on several all-too brief moments in a lot of the other songs, what this leaves is not so much a problem with the album but a missed opportunity, the acoustic guitars could have played such a beautiful role in the songs that when you hear them for those brief moments you wish they could be developed so much more into the rest of the song, it is very much an example of the band not experimenting enough, and staying in a comfort zone, luckily, even when they seem to not be challenging themselves they still make excellent music, and I really can’t place enough praise onto the melodies here! What helps a lot with the way the melodies create such a haunting mood is the production, which is pretty great for a black metal record, the bass is just high enough in the mix for you to actually hear it and enjoy it, the drumming packs a punch and the guitar melodies are distinguishable while retaining a certain feel that they meld in with the atmosphere, and as for the presentation; some of the best album art I have seen in a long time, the image of the cloaked skeletons walking in line through the night, guided only be their candles and the full moon above gives a truly prefect representation of Dantalion’s sound.
Shortly after this album was released, it was announced that the singer was leaving, now, this could very well shape a new, defining point in Dantalion’s career, if they can get a good, and I mean really good vocalist, they could really start to turn some heads with their next album. If anything, ‘Call of the Broken Souls’ lacks the sort of experimentation and lack of willingness to go outside their comfort zone, maybe the replacing of their vocalist could really make them try some new things, and if they do, maybe something truly special will come out of it.
After listening to the album for the first time you will love the melodies that are created, the constant feeling of sorrow and the haunting atmosphere. After ten listens you will still love the wonderful melodies, still enjoy the constant feeling of sorrow and still
be enchanted by the atmosphere, but nothing new will have emerged, no revelations in regard to the music, no, this is not an album to change your perception on metal, or even black metal, but it will certainly have you thoroughly entertained, and at some times, in awe, and it is a beautiful experience that you will want to experience again and again, amongst the giants of 2008 an unkown band has released one of the most sincere albums that I have heard for quite a while, haunting, beautiful and yet ferocious at points, if you enjoy any form of atmospheric metal this is an album that you should definitely give a chance.