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Their best by a mile - 98%

sushiman, November 18th, 2009

Runemagick are a particularly proliferant band, having sent forth ten full-length albums in the past eleven years, even releasing Moon of the Chaos Eclipse and Requiem of the Apocalypse in the same year. Darkness Death Doom was released during this period, their most abundant and their most formative. It represents the band making firm their identity as a death/ doom band rather than straight up death metal. Retaining the vibe and aggression of the latter genre and integrating with the unhurried dread of doom, Runemagick forged their best and most vile recording to date.

Nicklas Rudolfsson's death metal past has left him with an asbestos throat that ejects resonant, sepulchral reports. The kind of growl that twists the pronunciation of a word like 'ancient' into 'wwrrrainchant!' and so on. The stomping chorus on 'Darken Thy Flesh' ("Suffah fo' ya souulll!") giving way to relentless, chugging riffs reinforces the band's roots in the old, the catchy, and the downright malicious and heavy. Glorious.

The album has a grooving, low-end sound relying on far less atmospherics than later releases. Rather than an atmosphere of disquietude, the band create a chilling vibe through the use of varied instrumental techniques. Notably, the opener 'Ancient Incantations' makes use of a wah-wah pedal in its first half to create an incongruously stoned swagger, reminiscent of nothing more than Cypress Hill's 'Looking Through The Eye of a Pig.' The wah-wah pedal is put to good use later on in 'Doomed' for the ridiculously good solo. The opening of 'Eyes of Kali' and the instrumental 'DDD' both make use of Middle Eastern sounding guitar twirls, and even after these flourishes have finished a rolling mist of sheesha smoke seems to hang around the piercing detonations of the drums and guitars.

Tracks often ooze into one another, with the opening drum patterns of 'Eyes of Kali' beginning before you realize 'Ancient Incantations' is over. The whole thing plays as one piece of music, and it feels as if the band created the album all at once, a spontaneous overflow of vitriol and morbidity. Throughout, the drums tap, crunch and pound, Mojjo Moilanen sporadically taking centre-stage for meticulous, threatening rolls and fills. Moilanen subtly ties the album together by returning to specific drum patterns, which you notice at first only subconsciously but soon realize it all contributes to the cohesion of the album.

'Venom', 'Doomed' and 'Eternal Dark' are highlights. 'Venom' sees old school death metal riffs rumbling along into gloomy doom chords later on and a stellar drum performance. With 'Doomed' and 'Eternal Dark' it is the husband-and-wife team of Nicklas and Emma Rudolfsson creating urgent, epic-sounding riffs, like Candlemass getting funky with some nasty tremolo riffs and absinthe, with the bass guitar a constant shroud of pitch, crawling rhythms. This is clearly the way to keep your marriage healthy, as this duo is far too good to break up. 'Winter' is where church-bells-infused doom and death metal riffs are combined to the best effect however, yet more deliberate, chugging riffs heavier than the Earth's crust, and squealing tremolo solos.

Earlier efforts by the band, despite their quality, found themselves amongst a saturated genre full of people playing the same style of music, and later ones veered far into the realms of overly lengthy, almost funereal doom. At this stage, the band still had their tongues just about in their cheek, creating solid and belligerently evil material while never becoming poe-faced, and with an affinity for risk-taking and having fun. Darkness Death Doom stands as a pillar in the middle of Runemagick's extensive discography, reflecting their past and future with equal cantankerous authority.