Darkane
Demonic Art

Before starting this review proper, I have a small rant to get off my chest: what the fuck is up with all the delayed North American release dates? This album was released in Europe way back in October, and here we are in February finally getting it in the US. There are several albums I can name this happened to in 2008/2009. North America gets shit on with release dates more than any other territory, like there isn’t any metal fans on this side of the pond or something. Sure I know that metal thrives in Europe while the states are overrun with trend-loving hipster assholes, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t exist over here. Rant over.

There is a reason this band has an album called Insanity – because their sound is just that – complete and total insanity. There is an incredible amount of elements at play within their sound, all twisting, warping, slithering and changing around one another. Start with a death thrash base akin to The Crown or Defleshed, add to it the schizophrenic-wall-of-sound-madness that is Strapping Young Lad, mix in a hefty dose of the machine like precision of Fear Factory and top off with an assortment of goodies ranging from classical elements to groove to bits of melody to top flight technical wizardry to stop on a dime time and tempo changes, and you might be somewhere in the ballpark.

Their fifth studio album, Demonic Art is really no different from its predecessors at its core, in that it undoubtedly sounds like a Darkane album, but as with each album before it, it stands on its own unique merits, complete with its own set of experiments with chaos. Take for example the album opening instrumental, “Variations of an Eye Crush” – it’s a purely classical piece (which has become kind of a trademark of album openers for them) with an absolutely haunting atmosphere; positively evil; the sound of impending doom; certain death and destruction – it sets the tone for the album and the lunacy that lies ahead perfectly. From here they go straight for the throat in “Leaving Existence”, a raging thrasher that immediately displays their schizophrenic qualities and density; in the title track, you’ll hear a grooving thrash riff laid underneath a shred-fest solo; “Execution 44” has an epic build up before giving way to layered, thrashing madness; “Impetious Constant Chaos” is just all over place – I won’t attempt to explain it; “Demigod” sees them slow things down into a chugging groove with a big, catchy as the plague chorus (this is something they excel at); “Soul Survivor” features solo work that builds from melodic and soaring to a total frenzy. I could go on and on trying describe these songs and pick out highlights but it’s pointless – they have a knack for creating dense compositions with an impeccable attention to detail – you can’t throw a rock at this thing and not hit awesome.

As a prior fan of the band, I was little concerned beforehand about new vocalist Jens Broman. His predecessor, Andrea Sydow, had a unique set of pipes, great versatility and to me, was a big part of their sound and appeal. His range and approach matched the psychosis of the music so well, offering a multitude of screams, shouts, growls, grunts and hefty, gruff cleans. Though upon my first listen to Demonic Art, my fears were laid to rest, as Broman proved to possess those same qualities, and his delivery and tone are quite similar to Sydow as well.

Demonic Art is aptly named, as the sounds contained within carry a sense of wickedness and evil, and at the same time is definitely a work of art. Art that will baffle and confound, until given ample attention and repeated close listens. Even then, when you think you’ve “got it”, it can reveal new layers of awesomeness. Don’t come in thinking that on first listen it’s just gonna reach out, slap you in the face and scream “hey look how fucking awesome I am!” – it most likely won’t happen. I don’t think it really started to sink in for me until the tenth or so listen, and by now, I’ve probably sat through it 40 or 50 times over the past couple months, and I’m still finding new details. Even if you’re not much of a fan of the genre, I highly recommend investing some time in this one, or any Darkane album for that matter. This is top quality all around.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
February 8th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: DUDE

    WOW! Fuckin’ AWESOME review!!! It sums up everything I feel about this album better than I could have said it myself. Very good work.

    Darkane is not just on a higher level than any other modern/progressive thrash band, they are in a completely different dimension. Truly an amazing piece of music from an unbelievably talented band.


  2. Commented by: Vance

    I remember following these guys from the git go, but it seems like they never could find a decent growler. I always thought the muscianship was good, but the songwriting was just all over the place, seemed like none of the songs actually went anywhere. This review seems very interesting so I will go back and check this out, thanks.


  3. Commented by: stiffy

    I like this album but they seem to have gotten soft over the years. Not as chaotic as I remember. Layer of Lies was a better record I thought.


  4. Commented by: David

    This is a good album, just not feeling it as much as Layers of Lies.


  5. Commented by: Staylow

    Give it more time boys, I’m telling you. I really didn’t think they would top Layers of Lies either. This is the epitome of “grower”.


  6. Commented by: Staylow

    Oh, and Stiffy: if you think they’ve gotten ‘soft’ over the years, you may need to have your ears checked out – or your head examined. :lol:


  7. Commented by: AARONIUS

    Is this finally out here? I definately want to hear this. Darkane is just awesome. I liked Layers, a lot but I ‘ve been listening to a lot of Expanding Senses recently (just a nightmare of coolness).


  8. Commented by: Shane

    Larry,

    I guess “soft” was the wrong word. But they arn’t as crazy as Rusted Angel and Insanity. Layer of Lies seemed to be the best mixture of catchy choruses and insanity for me. This is a great record though. Getting those ears and head check soon old buddy. LOL!


  9. Commented by: fightingmike

    I dont mind the new vocalist at all. He fits right in and i actually like some of his vocal ideas better than their privious singer, but overall this isnt as catchy and the riffs arent as epic as Layer of Lies or their other records. I miss the offtime meshuggah-esque grooves that were in and out of their past releases.


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