I knew it. We will need to return to last year’s offerings. Because, lo and behold, Darkend‘s latest record Spiritual Resonance hereafter, somewhere fell by the wayside. And disappeared into the blackened yonder of RMR’s vast archives.
Their last record The Canticle of Shadows already garnered a pretty sturdy following on RMR, and – finally – appeared on three of our listings. First, the 2016 Top 10, the 10 Most Popular Posts and – lastly – on the Intermittent Digest IV. A feat not many bands mastered so far, ever.
This pretty stellar result somewhat took me by surprise, even if Darkend‘s last ritual really was THAT example of an epitome of a Black Metal record. This even led the band to issue a somewhat laconic comment that there must be at least some quality to their tune and Black Metal in general.
Spiritual Resonance first impressed me with this new, more melodic style, somewhere near to Carach Angren and their brethren. Specifically on The Three Ghouls Buried at Golgotha. Whereas the second piece – Scorpio Astraea High Coronation – kinda wildly hunts on the grounds Rotting Christ lately occupies.
Whilst Canticle was all about a brutal and unfiltered Extreme Metal onslaught with mighty bricks in that wall of sound, Spiritual Resonance is much more refined. Darkend now like to play with subtleties – if we can call them that. To screw around with your brain, as opposed to just bludgeon everything into a blackened mush. And that’s some Italian ritualistic sorcery right there.
For instance, With Everburning Sulphur Unconsumed with Lindy-Fay Hella of Wardruna does that beautifully. Here I find myself in some sort of Black Metal rendition of what Eluveitie would do. Had they only more power, which they don’t. Oh, and Hella’s contribution bizarrely sounds like Anna Murphy from times past. In a way that this song just lodges into your brain like a tongue glued to an icy surface. With notes that move easily from tremolo to a bass with a voice. You get my drift.
The track also whelped a video, by the way. But contrary to Canticle‘s Of The Defunct, this one works pretty much without gore. Only subtle hints in various shades of grey. Plus a dark and ominous storyline we truly enjoyed. Which does get the message across, like one of them old horror movies.
Spritual Resonance offers additional nods to already pretty dark hints of a Moonspell-ian nightmare world on Vessel Underneath. Even if the latter’s style in no way qualifies for the true Black Metal art. But this showcases how varied this record actually is.
If anything, Darkend added to the manic energy already present on the 2016 record. Spiritual Resonance probably includes any technique known to the Black Metal lore. And then they often turn that dissonance knob. To a point where things really go all tasty on ye.
After a while, you feel slowly cooked by those overheated magic flames, fanned by Beelzebub himself. “I am the devil, and I’m doing the devil’s work”, as the end of Scorpio Astraea High Coronation so aptly states.
And when you think that now we’ve had all the rituals that we can possibly take, they throw in that ’70s keyboard. The one sounding like something Disney’s Haunted House may have spawned, only much more morose and crankily evil.
And I always thought that Fleshgod Apocalypse holds the key to pvre epics. Yet here, Spiritual Resonance teaches us differently. Darkend managed to unload a goodly portion of bombast onto the unsuspecting fan crowd. And this without the proverbial cheese that often goes with it.
By Loki, how the band artfully included all kinds of elements into a subtle epically charged mix of elements borders on the artistic. And the cherry on the cake comes at the very end, with this piano interlude on The Seven Spectres Haunting Gethsemane. A spectral ending, if there ever was one.
But let’s put an end to the gushing, lest we overdo it.
You see, Spiritual Resonance really is rich pickings. A savage and tastily evil medley of mad hatter’s worst dreams. All of that embedded into a ritualistic version of the Black Metal art. Way more mature than Canticle and with a new-found swagger to boot that warmed my cold metal heart.
Darkend created a record that offers full immersion, a siren song to move further into its swampy embrace. A nightmarish world where demons reign supreme and the devil will do his deeds. And have a care, traveler of the magic lore, you might get lost in the record’s lush and darkly evil soundscapes. And once that happens, doom will be upon ye.
But until that comes to pass, consume without moderation. We can only recommend it. Just make sure you will emerge from the trance the rituals induce.
You have been warned.