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Darkane - "Demonic Art" (CD)

Darkane - "Demonic Art" CD cover image

"Demonic Art" track listing:

1. Variations of an Eye Crush (instrumental)
2. Leaving Existence
3. Demonic Art
4. Absolution
5. Execution 44
6. Impetious Constant Chaos
7. Demigod
8. Soul Survivor
9. The Killing of I
10. Wrong Grave (instrumental)
11. Still in Progress
12. Wrath Connection

Reviewed by on February 25, 2009

"An unholy portrait of ferocity, refinement, technicality, and melody."

There’s “epic,” and then there’s “Darkane.” This 5-piece Swedish titan of a band hails from Helsingborg and sports a distinctly Swedish melodic sound. However, this identification with the Swedish melodic metal front does anything but limit the scope of their songwriting. Deriving at times from the intensity of Testament, Megadeth, and classical overtures, Darkane’s latest offering, “Demonic Art,” is an unholy portrait of ferocity, refinement, technicality, and melody.

Right from the onset, “Variations of an Eye Crush” sets up a grand scope for the album, soaring into symphonics. If hell had a soundtrack, “Variations” would be Satan’s entrance music. The string and brass sections laid over melodic lead guitar and powerfully grand drumming make this an unforgettable album intro, much like an orchestral theme to a major motion picture. If “Demonic Art” were a motion picture, it would rank among the epics. Electric guitars end the intro and flow into the frantic drumming of Peter Wildoer to bring in “Leaving Existence,” recalling Darkane’s well-established progressive melodic thrash style.

Throughout the album, a careful attention has been paid to song structure, much like their previous release, “Layers of Lies”. The dual guitarwork of Klas Ideberg and Christofer Malmström creates an oppressively heavy and technical wave of music for Jens Broman’s vocals to ride atop of. Those familiar with prior Darkane lineups will recognize the common stylistic elements of the vocal work and will be surprised at the variation that Broman brings to the fold, as well as the ease with which he pulls off these variations. Broman’s vocal talent, in terms of screams, growls, and fiery melodic singing is very well pronounced, recalling the talents of others like fellow Swedes Christian Älvestam (Scar Symmetry, Miseration, Unmoored) and Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork, Coldseed, Inferior Breed).

Musically, “Demonic Art” both covers and paves much ground, boasting memorable melodic choruses, furious bursts of death and thrash metal, and heavy-as-balls passages, personified well in the seventh song, “Demigod.” This recalls the heaviness of Pantera and Behemoth, while adding grand technicality and an epic classical feel. Lyrically, much of the album is geared toward the introspective mind, aspects of character, and the human psyche.

Highs: Stunning musicianship, catchy riffs, vast scope of sound, top quality production

Lows: An occasional weak lyric, tiny bit of digital clipping in the audio

Bottom line: Heavy, grand, technical, and boasting a high replay value, this album is a testament to how far metal has been pushed and is an essential listen.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)