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Dark Horizon > Darkness Falls upon Mankind > 2024, CD, Independent (Digipak) > Reviews > Edmund Sackbauer
Dark Horizon - Darkness Falls upon Mankind

Dark Horizon - Darkness Falls upon Mankind - 91%

Edmund Sackbauer, April 2nd, 2024
Written based on this version: 2024, CD, Independent (Digipak)

Not to be confused with the (also pretty decent) Italian power metal band this Dark Horizon we are talking about here are located in Germany. I stumbled upon their 2024 full length “Darkness Falls upon Mankind” via their links to the death metal commando Blood Court with whom they share vocalist Mike. While at first believing that Dark Horizon are an entirely new outfit, I was surprised to see that they have already been formed in 2007. However, the output has been sparse with only one album from 2012 being listed. Other than that, there seems to be a demo and an EP but overall, the band has not been overly active. Anyway, what matters is the music and whatever the reasons have been for the band’s slow progressions this album is a banger.

Coming with a beautifully designed cover artwork by no other than Juanjo Castellano kept in blue and violet it becomes immediately clear after hitting the playing button what kind of treat you can expect. This album can be seen as homage to the big Swedish melodic black/death heroes of the nineties. After a short intro section Dark Horizon kick off the show and don’t leave much room for breathing for the next 50+ minutes. Opener “Secrets of the Nightmare Prophecies” lets us plunge straight into the abyss as we are welcomed by the relentless fury of this track. Perfectly setting the tone for what’s to come, tremolo riffs take center-stage and a salvo of high tempo, high intensity drum work keeps the pace nice and frantic. There is something terrifyingly gripping about the visceral performances shown from the first note onwards, something touchingly genuine about the wistful melodies which dominate the whole record.

Why putting the pedal to the metal most of the time Dark Horizon are not only about pure and unfiltered aggression and speed, as their music always has an underlying, epic edge to it that makes it sound expansive, despite its intensity and straight-forward approach. Some of the most intense moments come when they mix things up a bit and bring some groovier mid-tempo parts, more fragile sections and slightly unusual harmonies and sequences into play. The band’s laid-back sections are the ones that often hit the spot and extend the album by giving it additional layers. Brooding with menace and weaving grim moods with ease, Dark Horizon are adept at producing a deep atmosphere. When they lock into more of a mid-tempo groove or build and develop a mood-based soundscape with their captivating guitar harmonies they rise above a lot of their peers who play a similar brand of melodic black/death metal.

While the guitar work is phenomenal in places the drumming is the stalwart anchor required by music this blisteringly intense, and the performance throughout the album is tremendous. At times, a track stomps in with an attitude of pure, unbridled fury before giving way to a witheringly melancholy and remarkable trademark melody that sees the guitars letting loose with pinch harmonics that perfectly frame the unexpected melodic shifts. The relentless and booming double bass as well as the diverse use of the snares coupled with the hugely upfront scything of frantic guitarwork makes up for an impressive and deadly combination when it comes to the instrumentation and the technical skills of the band members. On top of that we got the powerful vocals by Mike consisting of angry gnarls and some deeper growls.

The great atmosphere, the blackened melodic streaks, and dynamic shifts in emotional intensity are performed and arranged with professional enthusiasm. The end product is an impressive piece of music performed and produced with a lot of polish and energy. When it comes to the sound there are no complains, as the production is very dynamic and transparent. Every instrument is in its place in the mix, with no aspect overpowering the others. The physical version comes as professional quality digipack with the mentioned wonderful artwork which perfectly matches the theme and mood of the album, making “Darkness Falls upon Mankind” a high recommendation for fans of this style. As long as you do not expect something new and innovative you should be happy.