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Dargonomel - Varkulama - 90%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 5th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, More Hate Productions

After having been taken by surprise by Dargonomel’s third album “Astazebian” which I liked more than I would have expected I decided to dig a bit deeper. “Varkulama” is the first album by this promising Russian band and a lot what I said about their more recent output is also valid for this one. With only 4 years between their three albums there is a certain evolution to be found but overall the sound of the first and the last opus (I am not familiar with album number 2 so far) are very similar.

This kind of hybrid of Black and Death Metal has been done a lot of times before so there is nothing exactly innovative or new to be found here. We got the typical hyper-speed blasting sections, furious riffs interchanging with more melodic lead sections, ultra-fast drumming and some symphonic elements. So while there are no real surprises as far as the main ingredients are concerned it is the way those elements are used that make or break a release in the crowded market of today.

Fortunately Dargonomel have a really good feeling of how to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. Instead of getting too dramatic and overdo the epic factor they concentrated on writing actual songs that have a stringent structure and are immediately listenable. All tracks consist of the typical verse-chorus structure with great but not too overblown lead sections. Most songs also offer refrains which might not be that catchy within the first spin but will grow over time with the listener. The songs are seldom longer than 5 minutes so there are no sections with overly long instrumental show-offs.

There are other factors than staying away from the slightly chaotic feeling inherent in most BM records that make Dargonomel more accessible than some of their peers. For one the vocals are aggressive but not too hysterical. I would not go as far as call them “clean” but they are easily understandable and just a bit less hyperbolic than you might expect on such a release. Beside that the production is quite modern with a clear and powerful mix. Purists might criticize this approach but to my ears the sound is spot-on.

While “Astazebian” might be a bit more polished than “Varkulama” this record is as strong as their latest one. Good stuff.