Review Summary: A mixture of old and new black metal tradition with a massive dose of the occult.
Thy Darkened Shade is a black metal project from Greece that began in 1999 and bizarrely went without any official releases all the way up until 2012. Unfortunately, I could neither find nor decipher the lyrics from the new record, but I think the first entry of the Liber Lvcifer series gives us a good idea of what to otherwise expect. On that album were complex descriptions of damnation and referenced fallen figures from an immense range of religions and associated texts. It seemed like every other line was involving someone new, so grasping everything line-by-line between both projects almost takes a religious studies Ph.D. to accomplish. Perhaps that was what the 13-year-long release delay was for.
Jokes aside, this album’s a decent listen. Two differences to spot after the nine years between entries are that the production is a little more smoothed out and that the choir bits are much more solitary from the tech death stuff. Otherwise, there’s not much of a stylistic difference between this Liber Lvcifer entry and the last. There’s still a good mixture of traditional black metal tempos and chanting along with the technical complexity of today’s more standout black metal projects. The latter part of that is especially impressive when the same guy is doing both guitar and bass parts for the record (both of which get crazy in certain areas). Each side of the group is given the proper amount of spotlight and each is produced with the proper care. Even if the mixing on the seldom extras like vocal overdubs or horn sections was often subpar, the overall mastering job was very well done and it helped keep the production punches rolling fluidly throughout the record.
I just wish the band could stick out more with what they have. There are at least three tracks here that structurally don’t do much to separate from each other, which gets tedious in a full-album experience. Along with the homogeneity is the absence of enough true standout moments. Places like the frenzied second half of “Noxious Witch of the Titans” and the careful dynamics balance of “Typhonian Temple” are too far and few between for a good portion of the material to stick with me for very long.
The technical talent is there, though, and it’s one of the more convincing releases for a cvlt/Satanic piece I’ve seen in a while. If you’re more into that passion than I am, then this might be a fantastic summoning-through-the-pentagram soundtrack. If you don’t already have one, maybe you’ll end up with that Ph.D. after the hundredth relisten.