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Darkest Mind > Oracle of Death > Reviews > Edmund Sackbauer
Darkest Mind - Oracle of Death

Darkest Mind - Oracle of Death - 89%

Edmund Sackbauer, July 24th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Immortal Frost Productions (Limited edition)

Belgium is probably not the first country that comes to mind when you talk about black metal. Nevertheless, there are several other promising artists besides the mighty Enthroned. The label Immortal Frost Productions, which is also based in Belgium, has international acts as well as local bands in its roster. An example of such a project with a lot of potential and talent are Darkest Mind. After a first EP in 2015, it became quiet around the gentlemen at first, before they attacked at the end of 2021 with their full-length debut "Oracle of Death". Over seven tracks and a playing time of about 45 minutes, the wheel is not reinvented, but the finest melodic black metal with death metal borrowings of the classic Swedish school is played with enthusiasm and a great knack for catchy tunes. The whole thing is so professionally done that the lack of innovation should not interest any fan of this type of sub-genre.

The album gets off to an intense start with “Shadow of Life”, with the extremity dialing back to a more moderate groove partway through before ramping up again and then mellowing out at the end. Those dynamics are heard throughout the album, and make for a more varied listening experience than the typical bludgeoning melodic black/death metal release. Next is the title track, one of my favorites here. It starts as a classic and dynamic black metal song, then eases back to death metal grooves with catchy melodic guitar riffs. There are shifts back and forth from extremity to melody, with near chaos settling back into groove before the track fades out. Darkest Mind operate with the pedal put to the metal most of the time, but they have a good feeling for implementing some breaks and mid-tempo sections for good measure.

An acoustic number was installed right in the middle, which slows down the insanity for a short time. The breather lasts only a short time, as with "Evoked by the Moon" we dive into one of the fastest and most violent songs of the album. In pure frenzy they start, the drums are worked to the limit. After a minute, we fall into a somewhat groovier pace, but without taking the foot off the gas too much. It speaks for the band's ability to write catchy and distinctive songs, that despite the technically adept attacks you never lose the thread and can also enjoy the roller coaster ride as a listener. The melody runs and solos are of the very finest I have heard, the heroes of old couldn't have done them much better than this. The croaking vocals in the style of Demonaz fit like a glove and are the icing on the cake. There is not much variation in the singing department, but I for one believe it is fine the way it is.

The production is crystal clear and extremely powerful. Every detail can be heard perfectly, despite the oppressive wall of sound. For some fans this approach may be too clinical and untrue, but in my opinion it takes exactly that kind of production for this particula style to guarantee the highest possible sound enjoyment. The guitars dominate and dictate the music, they are clearly the epicenter. The rhythm section pushes and unfolds a force of nature that serves as the perfect backdrop for the catchy melodies. I would also like to highlight the cover artwork, which is something different than usual with the red and blue tones adding a nice little extra flavor to the overall package. "Oracle of Death" is certainly not an album that you absolutely have to have on your shelf. Personally, however, I like it incredibly well and better than many works by more well-known bands that serve a similar style. If you are even just slightly interested in highly melodic black metal, you should risk an ear here.