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If I am to pick a single word to describe Dark End’s first studio album, “Damned Woman and A Carcass”, then it would certainly be synesthesia. Rarely have I come across music suggestive enough to trigger such a multitude of sensations, rendering an infinitely pleasant listening experience!
Hearing the band’s first album after countless spins of the latest one (“Assassine”) might have easily become a drawback to a fair perception, but I think that, apart from production and vocal style, both opuses stand on equal pedestals.
Taking inspiration from Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du mal” and actually featuring English translations of the poems for lyrics and song titles of the instrumental parts (“Asking for Perfidious Poison” and “Terrible Pleasures and Frightful Sweetness”), Dark End manage to live up to such an ambitious theme by delivering music that is laden with the elements of decadence: demonic lust, spirit consuming passion and flesh spoiling excess, inescapable decay and (self)-destruction.
In general, the album gives a dynamic impression by alert drumming and demon-like rasping vocals accompanied by sweeping keyboards lines as in “Sed Non Satiata”, “De Profundis Clamavi” and “The Two Good Sisters” or by memorable, ominous sounding guitar riffs combined with gothic organ as in “A Carcass”, but it has also melancholic instances best felt in “The Dancing Serpent” with its melodious guitars, and in “Terrible Pleasures and Frightful Sweetness” which is a sublime combination of piano and guitar (whose virtuosity instantly reminded me of Marty Friedman’s "Dragon’s Kiss").
I guess the Intro (“Asking for Perfidious Poison”) deserves a bit of attention as well, because of its storytelling power through special sound effects (synth making you aware of stormy ocean waves, castle by the ocean, bats flying scattered by a damned lover advancing towards his sleeping beauty – a vampire!) and because of its sudden turning into a dirge. Yes, this is a morbid keyboards masterpiece!
Choosing to finish with a cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division, performed in an amazingly decadent and grim manner, can only bridge past and present in terms of (self)-consuming passions and deterioration of everything as part of the unstoppable change.
I rated it with 99% only because of some minor pronunciation flaws. The rest is perfection.