Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Desolate Shrine - The Heart of The Netherworld (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 13/1/2015
Label: Dark Decent Records

‘The Heart of The Netherworld’CD//DD  track listing:

1. Intro
2. Black Fires of God
3. Desolate Shrine
4. Death
5. We Dawn Anew
6. Leviathan
7. Heart of the Netherworld

Desolate Shrine is:

LL | All Instruments
RS | Vocals
MT | Vocals


Desolate Shrine finds the Finns on their third full length record. Still deathly, still deadly and with some very desolate sounding music- this is bleak stuff. The very creepy intro sets things up nicely and then we are into a swirling abyss of discord and cold sounds. ‘Black Fires of God’ follows with a blackened sound mixing with monumentally heavy sounds. It's melodic in places, relentless in others. After a few minutes, you will be convinced that this is not just some br00tal death metal band- it is kind of niche and unusual. It doesn't reinvent the wheel or create a new genre, but it is quite a maelstrom of harsh sounds from both the death and black ends of the metal spectrum.

The band name a track after themselves for cut number three- and it is a stormer. Ten minutes of bleak (cold, so cold) sounds that is as punishing as it is haunting. Hard to believe that this band is actually one instrumentalist and two vocalists, but those are the facts (according to the internet). Never ridiculously speedy, although there are quicker parts, the band uses dynamics and variety to draw you in. There are moments of calm in the storm to give some respite, but the heavy sections are as harsh as they come.

‘Death’ is not exactly a walk in the park either, with an unusual rhythmic pattern, settings things up nicely for the horror and discord that follows. Truly horrific and this takes the record over the mid point. There are blast beats, but not hyper fast ones (thankfully) and they alternate with more mid paced percussive battering.

‘We Dawn Anew’ comes close to fifteen minutes in length and makes the most of the sprawling playing time- atmospheric and progressive, it showcases one of the album's strengths; the songs kind of wash over you as you go. There are no definitive songs, per se, just an overall mood that pervades all the music here. The piano intro is unusual and of course juxtaposes well with the aural carnage that follows. It is unremittingly unpleasant. Even the clean sections carry an air of unsettling menace.

‘Leviathan’ sounds a bit like a metal version of the score for the film Cape Fear (excellent) and brings a similar vibe of barely contained violence that both De Niro and Mitchum brought to their turns in the original and remake. Rolling rhythms are employed along side rolling blast sections and this works well for variety while making consistency (by alternating) present as well.

‘Heart of The Netherworld’ finishes this feral release with a fast start and lengthy playing time. There are lots of ideas here with the vibe nailed down. In short, this is a superior and an unusual release that will interest and satisfy fans of Bast, Lurk, Winterfylleth and even Marduk. It mixes death metal with a blackened vibe along with other elements of extremity. Excellent stuff and well worth your time and money.

Words by: Richard Maw

You can pick up a copy here

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