5 Jan 2013
Dark End - Grand Guignol - Book I [Full length] (2012, Self-released)
It's funny how symphonic black metal isn't played by that many bands, and yet there are several very well known bands to emerge from that scene. I suppose the mix of easily accessible melody mixed with the extremity of black metal makes it a good combo for many people. One might argue that the reason there aren't that many bands in the genre is because of the needed musicianship. To create good symphonic black metal you can't just write up simple melodies in shitty classical VSTs over equally shoddy black metal riffs, you need to actually be able to write captivating and preferably eerie symphonies that also fit together with, again preferably, complex black metal.
A band that perfectly encompasses what I described lastly is Italy's Dark End. Having just toured with large names like Cradle of Filth, God Seed and Rotting Christ, one my say they have their work cut out for them. Can they dethrone bands like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth or Emperor? In 2012 Dark End released their third album, entitled "Grand Guignol - Book I", and while I haven't heard their previous material I feel safe in saying that they could very well be the next big thing in the genre.
The Italian band aren't doing much out of the ordinary, but by playing a genre that doesn't have a lot of bands there's a certain imbalance in supply and demand. That said, Dark End aren't just resting on their laurels - Grand Guignol: Book I is a phenomenal album. Animæ's characteristic vocals go in perfect unison with Antarktica conveyance of classical symphony, which in turn fit perfectly with the black metal parts vomited forth by Ashes, Nothingness, Specter and Valentz. You can tell that Darkend is a band that wants something with their music. There is absolutely nothing half-assed about Grand Guignol - Book I. It's extremely well-executed and thorough in almost every aspect, and it just seems so... complete. One of the things I like the most about Dark End is their take on the genre: Not as extreme or fearsome as Anorexia Nervosa, not as dark and esoteric as Limbonic Art, but way more catatonically climactic and immersive than Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir.
Whilst writing the review I thought to myself that Dark End would be a great alternative to Dimmu Borgir. Then it occured to me that a band such as Dark End are probably sick and tired of being compared to that band, and while Dark End don't possess the same pop-ish easy listening "qualities" as Dimmu Borgir, their styles are alot alike. Especially in songs like "Spiritism: The Transmigration Passage" and "Dawn: Black Sun Rises" does this become apparent when the parts with clean vocals much like the way Dimmu Borgir utilized those of ICS Vortex come in. But Dark End just make it work so well. So much so that I've been listening to Spiritism almost non stop since I noticed it. That shit is CATCHY!
If you don't like symphonic black metal, I don't think Dark End will be the band to change your mind. They're great, and Grand Guignol - Book I is something truly special, and if you're into that kind of stuff I strongly recommend it, as it is probably the strongest album to emerge from the genre in years. Even if Dark End aren't bringing anything new to the table they still managed to create a masterpiece of symphonic black metal where you can actually still hear the black metal elements, which is more than you can say about Dimmu Borgir's latest albums. 8/10 guitars.
1. Descent/Ascent (II Movement)
2. Æinsoph: Flashforward to Obscurity
3. Doom: And Then Death Scythed
4. Spiritism: The Transmigration Passage
5. Bereavement: A Multitude in Martyrized Flesh
6. Grief: Along our Divine Pathway
7. Bleakness: Of Secrecy, Haste and Shattered Crystals
8. Pest: Fierce Massave Slaying Grandeur
9. Decrepitude: One Last Laugh Beside Your Agonies
10. Dawn: Black Sun Rises
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