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This album is the most hateful and evil recording I have ever witnessed.
On first listen one can clearly decipher the components of this album: extremely downtuned non-varying guitar fuzz, dull drum tracks, and dry raspy vocals. The guitar riffs throughout the album seem to follow the same strum patterns and even the same handful of chords. The drums vary between a Transilvanian Hunger type blast and a more midpaced standard beat. During every song there are one or two breaks where a guitar will play a riff in one ear, then a crash will hit as the riff is repeated with a second guitar in the other ear, and then, finally, the riff is continued with a blast and vocals. To be honest, if you were to queue this cd up on your playlist and set your media player to shuffle, you'd be hard pressed to know what song is playing because they're all basically the same. For these reasons, I can see why most people do not recognize this album's brilliance.
However, this is an album that does definitely not equal the sum of its parts. The atmosphere of this album goes far beyond the musical qualities. I did not enjoy this album when I first bought it. The whole thing seemed a bit weak. The guitar tone is full and powerful, but the drums and vocals appeared to be very bland. But this is perfect. The vocals on this album are the driest rasp you will ever hear. The only way I can think that Ixithra accomplished them is that he must have screamed his vocal chords to pulp for a few hours prior to recording. This dry rasp provides for a kind of subdued hatred. Behind the evil whispers lie the ultimate hatred that fueled Ixithra for this recording. The same thing can be said about most aspects of this album. The guitars, drums, and vocals all have that sort of passive and silent evil to them. Maybe most people can't appreciate it because it IS so subtle.
When listening to this album on headphones and walking amongst a group of people, one may feel inclined to gently stab those who walk by deeply with a concealed box-cutter or razor blade, and then smile while imagining their reaction to finding blood oozing from their lower torso until they feel faint and naseous, and hopefully die. It may be just me that gets that, but in any case, this album can inspire some extremely potent misanthropic tendencies, as well as tendencies toward self-mutilation. Not only does this album provide a perfectly hateful and evil atmosphere, but it is very trance inducing in its monotony. There is nothing sporadic or unexpected in this album. The only reason I bumped off 2 points is because toward the end of the album the vocals noticeably change. Ixithra most likely recorded them during different sessions and in the latter half of the album, there is a slight amount of reverb added, which detracts slightly from the monotonous flow of the album. It actually isn't very noticeable at all. But to a fan like me, it may be a slight annoyance.
The album title "Joined in Darkness" makes quite a bit of sense if you were to become entranced by it while listening to it on headphones in the dark. A near-meditative state can be reached by doing this. You will find yourself feeling totally distanced from any human soul, including your own. Darkness, evil, and hatred will totally engulf you until you are completely absorbed into a single abstract feeling of basic negativity. Fans of Ildjarn may know what I'm talking about.
I almost feel like I'm betraying my feelings toward this album by writing this review and recommending it so highly. As it was recorded by one person, it can only be experienced by your basest sense of self and your most evil human instincts. This album is pure evil, and it is definitely an acquired taste.