There are records that kinda follow you around. But you’re never quite sure what to make of them. They’re intriguing, but you need that right moment to jolt your lazy reviewer’s ass into writing mode.
On one hand, the undeniable groove always pulls you towards them. On the other hand – however – there are always those inconsistencies that make you sit down all over again.
Darzamat and their new record A Philosopher At The End Of The Universe is such a case. And this time, it is this change in style that kind of took us aback.
After their 2009 darkened thrash piece Solfernus’ Path, the stage went dark. And it stayed that way until this late in 2020. I must say, we much enjoyed their in-your-face metal of olden times earlier in the decade. This rough, unbridled power the band projects throughout that 11-year old record.
Yet, Philosopher now frolics more on Gothic Metal territory. That Hetfield-ish speedy Extreme Metal is pretty much out the door. Even if in The Kaleidoscope of Retreat – the very last track – kicks things up a few notches with a speedier type of metal that may – just may – have originated from former glories.
And this change in style, and – I daresay – direction, sounds more mellow if that can be said from a metal piece at all. In other words, this reference to Cradle of Filth replaced itself with something Lenore S. Fingers or Lindsay Schoolcraft could have done. Not that those impressed us too much lately. Just sayin’.
Now, the intro – Reminiscence – with its slightly industrial tinge already hints at some grandeur. A fantastical storyline that typically dwells in Power Metal’s realm. But why not fuel it on juice Gothic Metal usually favors and let’s see what transpires, right?
Well, if you expected soaring tunes and spacey themes, A Philosopher At The End Of The Universe will disappoint you. If – however – some pretty high octane Gothic Metal with a few atmospherics thrown in for good measure is your fancy, this is your record.
The RMR deck crew suffered somewhat cruel lately with more or less mediocre offerings from the Gothic and Dark Metal realms1). So, we were pleased to find Rafał “Flauros” Góral‘s outfit on the prowl again. With a record that pumps up the amps some in a genre that did not produce too many headlines lately.
I really relished how they mixed Flauros‘ growls with the somewhat ethereal wailings of Agnieszka “Nera” Górecka. And this without falling into the Beauty and the Beast trap that so many shipwrecked on. Instead, this is an almost symbiotic dialogue that really bubbles to the forefront later in the album.
After the promising track A Philosopher at the End of the Universe – the title – things will get into a lull somehow. And this is when we weren’t so sure about that record anymore. But then – luckily – the excellent The Tearful Game pumped up the volume. And this one showcased what kind of powerful metal this band is able to produce. And it is also here that the two vocalists truly show their wares.
From this point on there is a true bounce in their tune. This is yet another record that flexes its muscles in the second part2). Already the follow-on song The Sleeping Prophet impressed us with its gothically tainted animal power. And it won’t stop until the last note peters out of the aforementioned The Kaleidoscope of Retreat.
Finally, A Philosopher At The End Of The Universe delivers a multilayered and refreshing brand of Dark and Gothic Metal. At times deliciously blackened, Darzamat delivered one of the best contributions of these genres that appeared on our radar in 2020. Their tune is passionate, meaty, and full of hidden surprises. Proof that Gothic Metal can still stand as a genre of quality metal, despite the relative quiet and lack of suitable bands that we lately deplored.
So, let’s hope that they will continue down that road and won’t make us wait yet another decade. Ways to go, band. In the meantime, let’s enjoy this dark tale enrobed in rough-hewn metal with a female touch.