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Darken featuring Toby Knapp
Black Metal Grimorium
Released: 2016, Sumthinfierce Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Shred God extraordinaire Toby Knapp's old black metal band Darken recently underwent an extensive remastering treatment resulting in BLACK METAL GRIMORIUM "DARKEN REMASTERS" a ten-song collection of material originally culled from the "Reign From Funeral Thrones" demo from 1997 and the three song "Darken" EP from 1998.
"Eternal Winters" has an excellent tremolo picked lead line that has this mafioso feel to it, I hear more little Italy than anything Norwegian sounding, yet still grim as fuck due in no small part to the guttural vocals of Necrotriton (Who mysteriously seemed to drop off the face of the earth post-Darken, anyone heard what this guy has been up to?) Toby Knapp who at this time was going by the stagename of Stormlord was already creating advanced BM compositions that would give ol' Ihsahn a run for his money. Toby handles virtually all instrumentation including guitar, bass, drums and keyboards in addition to engineering the whole thing. What a monstrous undertaking!
"Lurking Past The Stars" features a riff that will sound familiar to all fans of Toby Knapp's heavy metal band Onward as it was later re-worked into what would become "Eye Of The Nightmare" from the excellent "Reawaken" album (with a much different vocal approach and feel.) "Shadows Dark Embrace" features a somber clean guitar intro leading into an upbeat tremolo picked thrasher. It's interesting to note that in just two-three short years from the time this Darken material was recorded, Toby would found Onward and embark down a much different metal path. Also of note, post-Onward Toby Knapp would burn the black flame again with his Waxen project (two full-lengths of grim unadulterated hatred are available, go seek them out!)
"Enthroned By Night" definitely reminds me of "In The Nightside Eclipse" era Emperor, just better delivery as far as the guitar playing is concerned, as evidenced by the lengthy solo section found therein. "Under The Bloodstained Moon" maintains that classic late-nineties black metal feel that has long since vanished from the music of the corpsepainted faithful of today. If you were a part of this music back then and are looking for a nostalgic kick in the pants this is probably the only album released this year that will do it for you.
I'd strongly recommend this album to all fans of black metal and more importantly all die-hard fans of Toby Knapp. A very interesting listen showcasing a different side of his playing from the man who brought us so many classic and shredtastic metal moments.
1. Reign From Funeral Thrones
2. Eternal Winters
3. Autonomous Closing Of Time
4. Lurking Past The Stars
5. Shadows Dark Embrace
6. Enthroned By Night
7. Under The Blood Stained Moon
8. Sorrow's Season
9. The Necromantic Bell
10. A Mournful Chorus
Toby Knapp (Stormlord) - Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboards
Necrotriton - Vocals
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