There is a lot of history to unpack here so let’s get going! Back in the early 90’s there were three young men from Finland who started a band with the charming name of Virgin’s Cunt. As you might have guessed they did not keep that name for very long. They quickly evolved into a band called Darkwoods My Bethrothed. Then almost immediately they started a side-project with a young man, a friend of theirs by the name of Tuomas Holpaineen, and called it Nattvinden’s Grat, or ‘The Cry Of Night Wind’ in English. Nattvinden’s Grat didn’t go very far and evolved in Nattvind, (Nightwind) who then did one album and broke up. Meanwhile Holopainen left to form Nightwish and became rich and famous. Darkwoods My Bethrothed churned out three well-regarded albums very quickly and by 1998 spilt up All the members went off to do other things. All of this happened within the span of five years. Fast forward to 2021. Everybody gets back together, Holopainen joins the band and brings his drummer and some friends and suddenly out of the blue after 20 years we suddenly get a new Darkwoods My Bethrothed album!
ANGEL OF CARNAGE UNLEASHED is a very welcome return. Signed to Napalm the band issued their fourth album in late 2021. All the original members are back and the dark magic is still present. It is a nice presentation with good cover art and a nice digipak which explains to us that the story is based on a book called ‘Murhanenkeli’. (Angel Of Death). The ominous and creepy cover art looks like it was done by hot artist Eliran Kantor (Helloween, Iced Earth, Kreator) but it was actually done by Stephan Todorovic, who has a very deep portfolio of underground Metal bands who have contracted him to do their cover art.
The blackened Death Metal band…or is it Black Metal with touches of Death Metal?… have equalled anything they have done previously. They have added some slight hints of progression, acoustic guitars, female vocals, narration, some clean vocals, all these elements have combined to create an enticing soundscape that enhances the skull-crushing Metal. The orchestral and symphonic components are not overdone they add a bit of variety to the 50 minute album. ‘In Thrall To Ironskull’s Heart’ almost borders onto folk/viking Metal stylings but unless you might worry they have gone soft, they follow it up with ‘Massacre’ a black blitzkrieg. If we have to put a number on it I’d say the album is 85% extremely heavy, surprisingly heavy, and 15 % extra musical and sonic flair. The compositions are exciting and intense with plenty of speed and aggression.
Each year I write a column about missed or under-rated albums that get missed by, or ignored by, the mainstream Metal media and ANGEL OF CARNAGE UNLEASHED made the cut. They also made my Top 20 of 2021 so I felt it was best to write a full review. This was one of my most pleasant surprises of 2021 and I’m so glad they have returned!
Emperor Nattasett Vocals, Guitar
Tuomas Holopainen Keyboards
Kai Hahto Drums
Johanna Kurkela Vocals (female)
Aki Koponen Vocals (backing)
Jan Holm Narration
Tommi Salmela Vocals (backing)
Markku Kaustia Guitar
1. Name the Dead
2. In Evil, Sickness and in Grief
3. Murktide and Midnight Sun
4. You Bitter Source of Sorrow
5. Where We Dwell
6. In Thrall to Ironskull’s Heart
8. Black Fog and Poison Wind