Review Summary: Thulcandra present a focused and massively enjoyable debut, though suffers at times from unoriginal and derivative material.
Striving for originality within the genre of black metal is a tricky feat, especially in the wake of game changing bands throughout Europe in the early 1990s. Most recent deviations from the tried-and-true formula are frequently met with resistance and disdain. Stick too close to the established formula however, and you're called unoriginal, or even accused of plagiarizing the classics. Thulcandra were formed in 2003 by guitarists Steffan Kummerer and Jürgen Zintz in Munich, Germany. Their musical style combines melodeath guitar riffing with a melodic black metal sound similar to groups like Dissection and Darkthrone's earlier material. The band had a full lineup with drummer Jürgen Zintz and recorded a demo in 2004, titled Perishness Around Us
. It would not see a release date, as the guitarists decided that they were unsatisfied with its quality. Zintz tragically committed suicide only a few months after the recording of Perishness Around Us
, effectively rendering the band on hiatus for a number of years.
Fast forward to 2008, where guitarist Kummerer is in a new city and is still listening to Thulcandra's unreleased demo. Newly inspired, he decided to reform the band with a new lineup and dropped Fallen Angel's Dominion
two years later. While a tightly focused and impressive extreme metal debut, it reeks of its influences in nearly every song. The album cover, lyrical themes, and song structures are all impressive, and some of the best written in this facet of the genre in recent years, but is all a bit too familiar. It does not however mar the truth that the album knows exactly what it is doing. Everything including the intriguing and supernatural album cover, the varied and technical guitar riffing, and mysterious atmosphere in each song makes for a massively enjoyable, albeit at times unoriginal sounding debut with few to no weak moments.
Brief intro and outro tracks surround six massive songs filled with punishing, brutal black metal and melodic guitar harmonies throughout. The title track in particular features an effective combination of thrash metal riffing in the verses with blasting drumming and melodic tremolo picking in the choruses from the guitars. "Frozen Kingdom" has impressive drum work over an incredible descending guitar lead, which then transitions to an acoustic guitar break before culminating into a slowed down riffing section of dueling guitars. As the beginning repeats, more melodic leads return and layer to create a stunning crescendo of atmosphere and harmonious leads. Not only are these two tracks the centerpiece of the whole album, they are among the band’s finest achievements thus far. They most importantly display Thulcandra's potential for stepping outside of their comfort zone. Fallen Angel's Dominion
is a massively enjoyable album that pays tribute to its very obvious influences, while a truly impressive identity of its own lurks beneath the frozen wasteland of a surface it exhibits, hopefully willing to burst forth in future endeavors.