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Siebenburgen has a particular aura about them that is much different than many bands that meld black metal and gothic overtones. They have advanced greatly in terms of songwriting, yet they still possess the raw vibe that fans enjoyed so much on “Delictum.” But on “Darker Designs And Images”, the group branches out into wider arrangements and relies a bit more on allowing the melody to carry each tune, however grim it may be. As “Darker Designs” fades in with an evil chant, one has the impression that they are going to be in for a great album if they have any inkling of the band’s previous material. At this point, Siebenburgen launch into a full on black metal assault that morphs further into a grim take on more traditional heavy metal. Marcus Ehlin has a cool sounding snarl that adds a dour feeling to songs like “Rebellion” and “A Crimson Coronation,” where Erika Roos puts in a haunting female vocal performance.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this album is the way in which it weaves a common thread between the band’s name (It means Transylvania), It’s image (the group looks gothic, fit the part of vampires quite nicely) and the music is such that it skillfully imparts varied thematic substance and sound in direct relation to the overall concept. In other words, yeah it sounds like a pack of blood-thirsty vampires, or at least this is music that a creature of that nature might find to be entertaining.
“Of Blood And Magic” is a blustery thrash number from the onset, as Ehlin growls wildly. As the song progresses, the band’s contemporary black metal influences stand out in terms of instrumentation. A most positive aspect of this band is their ability to switch up their aural moods without losing the overall feeling of the entire track. “As Legions Rise” sounds particularly diabolical, with a very straightforward riff and a structure that builds to crescendo. Richard Bryngelsson knows exactly where to build drama with his playing and his attention to detail is impeccable. The guitar moves between varieties of riffs, some simple and others much more challenging, at all times enjoined by scalar progressions and percussive rhythmic strikes. “Skuggor” sounds particularly evil, as Ehlin articulates dark growls in his native tongue and Roos accompanies him in epic fashion.
For those that haunt the night searching through villages with a thirst for blood, Siebenburgen provide the ultimate soundtrack. “Darker Designs And Images” truly does capture the dialectic presence of the Bavarian town of Transylvania in a most excellent fashion. The fact that Siebenburgen continue to produce continually better records beckons well for the future, but for now, “Darker Designs And Images” stands as Siebenburgen’s masterpiece effort thus far.