The Canticle of Shadows
Non Serviam Records
April 25th, 2016
Making myself familiar with Darkend, I was curious if the highly-acclaimed guests vocalists on the new album, are not going to be a medium to camouflage the poor music. It immediately turned out, that it’s not the case at all! The Italians strike hard and furious and their new album, The Canticle of Shadows, has got a lot to deliver. Featuring Sakis Tolis, Labes C. Necrothytus, Atilla Csihar and my all-time-favourite Niklas Kvarforth, Darkend is certainly an interesting option on the map of Italian extreme metal. But why?
On the first contact with The Canticle of Shadows, I instantly noticed that the album features one of my favourite works of Zdzisław Beksiński, the Polish artist famous for his gloomy and bleak visions. That was a good start. But what about the content? A brief prelude welcoming you to quickly strike with an intensive blast later accompanied by subtle keyboards. Soon after that, you get to the first revelation which the album has to offer. Of the Defunct features none other than the mighty Atilla of Mayhem, perfectly complementing the song with his sepulchral voice. It’s also very easy to notice that The Canticle of Shadows is characterised by frequent atmosphere changes – it is a great combination of mid-paced riffs with machine guns drums. This certainly makes the album very diverse and difficult to get bored with.
There is a little bit of orchestral drama to the whole album but it remains a beautiful extension rather than the band’s trademark. All seems to be rightly balanced and mixed. A Precipice Towards Abyssal Caves (Inmost Chasm, I) graces you with a saxophone surprise pleasantly integrated with the doomy riff and sinister chants that enhance the whole creation. It’s worth noticing that the vocals on the whole record are really exposed featuring a very strong and skilful voice.
Even after listening to the album once, I was able to say that choosing Beksiński’s artwork was not coincident. The atmosphere of The Canticle of Shadows is very adequate to the visual content – there is an absolute connection between the image and sound. I’m not sure why but for me, Congressus cum Dæmone is the best incarnation of Beksiński’s vision. The beautiful melodic overtones create a melancholic yet dismal ambience which fits into the general concept of The Canticle of Shadows.
I like it when I can’t decide if a certain album is death or black metal. It inspires me for some more profound analysis. The Canticle of Shadows blurs the borders taking all the good ingredients from various aspects of the metal world. You’re in for a surprise basically in each track and this has certainly made the album unique and very interesting to listen to. As always, with the bands that are new to me, I can’t wait to see if Darkend is able to translate that drama onto the stage during live performances.