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Here, another band whose imagery is quite misleading, though unlike in most cases, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult surprises positively with its professionally crafted, intense and fairly melodic black metal. Do not expect idiotically raw, chaotic, putrid bestial war metal fare; "Follow the Calls for Battle" is a professionally recorded and produced album of fairly well-formed and somewhat rigid black metal in the best norsecore tradition. The fact that hundreds of bands sound highly similar to DNS does not take away from its inherent value, however, the negative aspects of this album can be traced to those very similarities in that the riffing and musical ideas themselves are not, and never were as performed by other bands either, outstandingly impressive. That is not to say, though, that "Follow the Calls for Battle" is not enjoyable. Certainly, for anyone with taste for fast, pummeling and clearly produced black metal this is more than adequate.
Quite often, lack of variety can be highly detrimental even to extreme styles of metal. Obviously, a song of an especially cohesive nature heard not once but several times in a row eventually bores the listener, and the the more songs on an album resemble each other, the faster it becomes monotonous. DNS never attempts to infuse different emotional states or styles of expression into the music; the album is full-speed blasting, tremolo-picking black metal from start to finish (with only "Pestilential Deathride" relenting somewhat), with the fairly typical high-pitched, reverb-drenched raspy screams. The guitars are high in the mix with adequate but never excessive treble, whereas the bass never attempts to compete with other instruments and settles with booming in the depths. Riffs are all of the moderately evil variety, and not particularly expressive or engrossing, and the pace is almost always the same fast one. There are no atmospheric passages or introspective moments, and overall, judging from the similarity of the material, the band seems fairly convinced of their particular black metal style's inherent excellence. Yet despite all this, "Follow the Calls for Battle" is one of those albums that one can easily listen to twice in a row and not be annoyed, bored or otherwise displeased. While it completely lacks aspects that would separate it from standard fare black metal and place it among the masterworks of the genre, it also lacks the aspects that might become grating with excessive listening. It may be by-the-numbers and formulaic, but it's enjoyable due to its speed, intensity and great sound.
The single annoying point is the highly compressed sound of the album. It's never grating to the mind of the listener, but it becomes slightly so to the ears. The album leans slightly to the side of overproduced, which in black metal is certainly a greater fault than being underproduced. It also doesn't hold the listener's attention with lenghtier listening, so as it lacks annoying aspects, it also wants the greatness that warrants fandom and dedication. Even a few chosen moments of utmost brilliance and musical genious could've greatly enhanced the overall quality of the album; the couple of moments, as in "In the Land of the Mountains of Trees" and "Our Glorious Presence", that promise such are not quite sufficient to raise the album on any pedestrial other than "good black metal". It is highly consistent, but it is also quite flat. Nevertheless, "Follow the Calls for Battle" is recommended for aficionados of fast and intense black metal, and fans of the more emotive stuff will not be absolutely disappointed by the album either, provided that they can stomach the fact that the bulk of this DNS debut is emotionally quite planar.
Artist: Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult
Album Title: Follow the Calls for Battle
This is the first full-length album from Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, a German band playing raw black metal.
This album reminds me very much of what Abigor might have created during their "Orkblut" sessions, if they'd been a keyboardless band - martial, raw metal with frequent breaks and complex riffing. "Follow the Calls to Battle" also contains a few well-placed samples, of war sounds and such. The samples are one of the best aspects of the album, since they're perfectly timed and never overdone, and really add to the experience of the music.
The vocals are a well-executed Black Metal snarl, showing a good deal of range. The guitar work is quite technical... surprising for such a raw band, but certainly not unwelcome. The riffs themselves are fast and varied, though still punishing. I suppose the closest reference points for them are the aforementioned Abigor, and possibly Judas Iscariot, though the songwriting here doesn't seem derivative at all.
In fact, it's some of the best work I've heard lately - these songs are each lean, violent, and very interesting, without any unnecessary frills. The drums are well done, and are almost constantly at blast-beat tempo, as befits the speed of these songs. The drums don't stand out as much as the guitar or vocals do, probably due to the album's production. In fact, I suppose that if I have any complaints about this album, they lie in the production. It's a minor quibble, but I'd have preferred to bring the drums up in the mix a bit.
While this isn't a particularly groundbreaking album, it's not meant to be - this is a paean to the early days of Black Metal, and fully succeeds in conjuring the hateful atmosphere of raw Black Metal. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Follow the Calls to Battle", "In the Land of the Mountains of Trees", "Our Glorious Presence"
Review by Vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net