Released: 2014, Nuclear War Now! Productions
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It is a very fertile time for the metal genre (and all its offshoots) in Greece. Embrace Of Thorns are proud purveyors of extreme metal in a very rich and diverse scene. "Darkness Impenetrable" is their fourth full length album. It is an exercise in murky, grime strewn Blackened Death Metal.
The album opens with "Of Morbid Existentialism & Unholy Sorrow", which is short and not especially sweet, full of menace and creeping morbidity. It is followed by "Sons Of Fire & Brimstone Levitate!", a gnarly yet ethereal death metal ditty - the guitars a primordial soup of brutality, before lurching into a more blackened feel.
Track three "My Hermetic Quest or Thy Blackened Temple" features more scything death metal. It is ugly as fuck (however ugly fuck is), and possessed of an unforgiving fierceness. The title track is up next, and it features a more controlled pace, attempting a more epic feel. It is more layered, and contains more melody than previously heard, before belching forth a earthquake of barbarity. It is the album's unquestioned highlight, and unfortunately the oddly bland "Erect Bloodstained Temples", an uninspired melange of trite death metal dreariness. Matters are slightly improved (though not much) by "At The Antipodes Of Chastity (Hail The Sons Of Cain)", a bile spewing cave troll of a track.
Thankfully quality is restored with "I Die Therefore I exist", which at its outset features a few fetid shards of melody, before returning to the albums overall uncompromising attack, displaying some utterly deranged riffing.
"Charon's Ride Over Wasteland" features more of the same, but is slightly broken up by an all too brief smattering of melody at the midpoint of the song, and a nicely performed outro. The album's blanket ferocity is interrupted by the creepy instrumental track "Der Grausame Aspekt der Menschlichen Wirklichkeit", which sadly comes across as cliched and banal.
Redemption can be found in the shape of album closer "Aiwaz Arisen"; a delightfully doomy intro giving way to warped black metal dynamics (not featured enough in my view). The track eventually descends into a gloriously nebulous nightmare.
As a whole "Darkness Impenetrable" is a decent album. It is well performed (the drumming in particular), but it is flawed. While none of the tracks are ponderous enough to outstay their welcome, the prevailing feel of the album is one of near ceaseless brutality. It feels akin to being kicked in the head repeatedly for 40 minutes. The chilling black metal passages are used too infrequently to lift the album, and the echoey vocals feels somewhat forced and weak. A case of what might have been.
Review by Owen Thompson