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Complex Finnish death metal - 89%

BobbyPeru, March 14th, 2013

Love it when bands take a turn for the better and eschew ordinary song structures. Finland’s Desolate Shrine are not in this to invent their own genre, but their deadly compositions are at once thick, sluggish and clogged with a variety of harsh sounds. Must say something about their mind state and the ideas they try to invoke. Metalheads tend to favor hard and fast or hard and slow, but who about hard and withdrawn? “Corridor: Human Altar” the first cut, is at times gentle, though never weak. It start timidly and ends taking a bow, but is packed in the middle with a hard to take sense of dread. Guitars in opposite tones draw a heavy lift and others push for a melody that’s almost subliminal. The track ends, it builds anticipation, its purpose is clear.

The Sanctum of Human Darkness moves then more or less straightforward, with sheer brutality and careful arrangements that are never linear but follow direction. Death metal is key here, no one has argued this point precisely because is absurd. That’s what these Finns do, Finnish style, meaning, totally smoked, charred and blackened. The end result is diabolic, sludgy guitars reigning supreme and turning black as if to subtly divulging the subject matter. “Lair of Wolf and 1000 Lions: Nine Forgotten Names” isn’t just a long title, but a mini masterpiece of brainy metal of death, a beast that thinks, coils and wails wildly with disparaging instruments only connected by telekinesis. By the time the track ends one can only sit satisfied that extreme metal has leaped this much forward.

From a high level, the music of Desolate Shrine can be disorienting, as on one hand we have the sound itself which is layered and carefully arranged, but also robust, dynamic and totally sepia and on the other we have the band’s tendency to both startle with their slow ambience and pummel with proper brutality. There is far more of the latter, or let’s say The Sanctum of Human Darkness isn’t the kind of album that will appeal to ambient fans. The conjugation of both does make for a genial and at times authentically creepy release though.

Originally Written for www.deafsparrow.com