Released: 2009, Nuclear Blast
Darkane needs no introduction to those familiar with Swedish melodic death metal, but it has been nearly four years since the band’s last album, LAYERS OF LIES. During long periods between album releases, fans sometimes move on and the news of singer Andreas Sydow’s departure along with the changing of record labels from Nuclear Assault to Massacre are all foreboding signs. Adding to the confusion, the album was released by Massacre in 2008 for Europe and then, in February 2009, Nuclear Blast released the album in America. There still appears to be confusion as one of the song titles on the promo is listed incorrectly. Darkane have never achieved the status of fellow Swedish titans like In Flames but this album makes a play for the big time. In many circles this is being called a career defining album. So the inevitable question arises: does it live up to its hype? Let’s find out.
The album opens with a symphonic progressive type intro complete with strings and keyboards. This is deceptive because things transition swiftly into the thrashing and speedy “Leaving Existence.” Immediately, the technical complexity of the riffs are gripping but man, new vocalist Jens Broman’s style is definitely an acquired taste. Consider the vocals a cross between shouting and screaming more suited to Hatebreed or Killswitch Engage. In fact, I can say right now that they are the weakest link in this album. I previously stated the riffs are complicated and fast but the lack of hooks begins to make itself known pretty quickly. It is not until “Execution 44” that things start to get really interesting where an awesome lead-off solo and a cool marching beat introduce the song. This track is a mover and as complicated as they come. Even Broman’s vocals are a little more varied and melodic on this one and the bowel grind death metal style he throws in totally fits the music. This is definitely a personal favorite.
“Demigod” is another good tune with a nice start stop intro and some weird soloing to go along with possibly the only mid-paced chug on the album during the verses. The chorus is one of the best on the record as well. The rest of this album is uncompromisingly fast, leaning more towards hyper thrash than any other style. The drumming is top notch, Peter Wildoer able to match the frenetic pace of the fast songs, while providing a solid beat to the slower songs. The guitarists are obviously talented as well but the riffs for the most part are not outstanding and the bass mainly follows the guitar lines.
DEMONIC ART is an album characterized with excellent musicianship and crystal clear production. Everything is perfectly balanced in the mix and sounds great blasting from a good stereo system. It is not impossible to see Darkane getting a big career boost with this album because the overall blandness of many of the riffs is overcome with attitude and passion in the songs. Broman’s vocals eventually revealed a subtle variation the more I listened to the album and this is a style of vocals that many bands have ridden to success. Still, even though this is a good album, it is unlikely to knock the top Swedish metal bands from their perch, so for now Darkane will have to be satisfied with a respectable but undeniable second tier status.