Review Summary: lol Rob Darken
Let me preface this with a brief but informative history on who exactly it is we are dealing with here. Rob Darken, born Robert Fudali, is a fairly substantial figure in the Polish black metal scene. As a matter of fact, Darken pretty much single-handedly created the scene in his country. Graveland, his band, has been tinkering around since about 1992, flying relatively unknown under the radar considering how surprisingly active this band has been since its creation. Anyway, Darken is by far the most interesting figure in the black metal scene (which says quite a lot about how ridiculous this dude is) in both his beliefs and, largely, his ability to take everything more serious than even the most pretentious and ridiculous of black metal minds. Among other things, Darken is known for taking far and away the most embarrassing band pictures ever photographed, questioning both his band’s seriousness and his mental stability (http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/_/2306862.jpg). Such precarious images bring to mind the question of what exactly our dear friend Rob Darken does with his spare time. Fear not, however, since that question has long since been answered. Darken is known among his “tr00 kvlt” peers as having the single most impressive display of leather chaps, padded shoulder guards, and assorted medieval/Viking warfare *** which makes his home seem quite close to that of the prop closet for such films as Braveheart
and Kingdom Of Heaven
. Scratch that last one actually. Why, you ask? Well, according to Darken, his political beliefs extend into the realm of “extreme right-wing National Socialist convictions”. Darken is an interesting figure indeed.
All of this nonsense, however, does not leak into his music like sewage into a pristine river. Right? RIGHT? Well, not really. For those who objectively listen to Graveland’s music, it appears as almost nothing more than sub-par black metal with a few interesting moments lost somewhere between the realms of Darken’s embarrassing photo-ops and his bizarre fascination with pagan black metal. It would be all good, we would be able to forgive and forget, if Darken had actually been relatively good at what he does. Sure, his later albums represent some maturity in his sound, but when one listens to Graveland’s second full length Thousand Swords
, the sheer disregard for songwriting and musicianship is almost astounding, even for raw black metal. Darken’s blatantly uninspired mind wrote an album of songs which sound virtually identical, even when listened to in detail. It’s more or less him gargling on for seven minutes about killing Christians for seemingly no reason while he takes a dump on his recording equipment in an attempt for the production to be even worse than if it was recorded on a cell phone from 1996. I’m sorry, but I have never heard an album on compact disc
, not vinyl, make my computer speakers crack and sputter. Intentional or not, if I wanted that effect I would get the album on vinyl. So please, Rob, stop rubbing sandpaper over the disks before packing them and shipping them to unsuspecting fans.
Still, with all of that
nonsense aside, the music still finds a way to make the listener plead to be euthanized. The guitars are hidden somewhere in the background, playing nearly unintelligible, yet cliché, riffs. It’s almost how Summoning takes their guitars and puts them behind their synths, except with Graveland, Darken had no intentions to put the synths in. The single redeeming factor about the music is the slight folk elements hidden in the various songs, along with the fairly interesting riff which introduces the first song on the album, “Blood Of Christians On My Sword”. It’s nice to see that Darken did put a few riffs in the album which attempt to be epic, seeing as his style of pagan black metal is meant to be taken as epic and glorious, so it would give him a moment of bliss for me to mention the precious few seconds when the music begins to approach the epic level. However, things sadly bog down from the moment the horrible vocals enter. I wouldn’t call Rob’s vocals raspy, nor screams, but more like a very phlegm-laden, gurgling cry which will, guaranteed, annoy you from the second they come in during “Blood Of Christians On My Sword” until his final scream, which, for some reason, is aimlessly inserted into the outro track, fades. There is no change in vocal style, no hinting at emotion, just a straight, monotone drone which proceeds for the 47 minute running time. It’s almost as painful as looking into the face of Darken himself. Almost.
I really cannot pick out a moment from this album which has had lasting effect. The lead during “Blood Of Christians On My Sword” is the closest I can come to such an occurrence. Other than that, Thousand Swords
is only good for staring at the cover, looking on with a blissful smirk as you observe Darken wandering through the frostbitten, remote woods of central Poland lugging a completely unnecessary shield along with him, decked in black leather and a pointy helmet, with a seemingly “evil” frown on his face. However, I’ll just say what everyone is thinking. This dick sneeze has no clue what the hell is going on, in real life, music, or otherwise. Steer clear from Thousand Swords
at all costs.