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Does one need to do introductions for these things? Introductions are always the hardest part of these things. While searching for atmospheric black metal bands, I came across Dark End and obtained this album. I'm aware that a lot of black metal bands like to display some sort of atmosphere in their music, but many times the atmosphere is there to either A) make you suicidal,
B) make you cold, C) want to go to war and slaughter hordes of your enemies, or D) make you feel like you're in a forest for absolutely no apparent reason.
The atmosphere on "Grand Guignol" is different. It feels like you're in a candlelit cave while the singer Animæ tells a story. Now how is this all possible? It definately takes a man of immense talent to play such great influence on your mind, your heart, and above all, your soul. The main focus on this album is the orchestration (sometimes epic, sometimes goofy, and sometimes sad and melancholic) combined with a great guitar riffing and the incredible, stunning vocals. On most albums the keyboard and the guitar often fight each other for attention with one overpowering the other 99% of the time. On this album that doesn't happen, though. The keys never try to take away from the guitar and vice versa. The style of guitar playing is more focused on scales, chords, and power chords than they are on tremolo picking. There is a point in the song "Bereavement: A Multitude In Martyrized Flesh" where a guitar solo focuses on intricate scale playing and riffs. Same goes for the keyboard on most of the songs, and while one hand is playing a few 8th and 16th notes over and over for a little while, the other hand is playing a couple of notes in whole notes. The effect works very well and helps to build the atmosphere.
The vocals are simply incredible; they can move form piercing screams to dark litanies, from epic clean vocals in the style of ICS Vorktex (Borknagar, ex-Dimmu Borgir) to rabid growls, from an "in-your-face, powerful metal singing" to mysterious and sorrowful whispers. Also, the languages used by Animæ are different, being English, Italian, Latin, and old Jewish.
As a whole, this album is great. Dark End have managed to create a real masterpiece, able to arouse an infinite range of emotions and feelings. Just take a listen to the unholy, monumental opening track or to the dramatic "Decrepitude: One Last Laugh Beside Your Agonies" and you will understand.
Now, go and buy it!