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Darkness Impenetrable - 60%

H_P Buttcraft, September 16th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Nuclear War Now! Productions

Embrace of Thorns is a blackened death metal band from Athens, Greece who have released their fourth full length LP “Darkness Impenetrable”. Ever since they started back in 1999, Embrace of Thorns have been quite active, releasing a good amount of demos and split records. Originally, “Darkness Impenetrable” came out at the end of 2014 exclusively on picture disc vinyl through Nuclear War Now! Productions, but is now seeing a wider release via digital and CD.

There are short, minute moments taken on “Darkness Impenetrable” where Embrace of Thorns beckon to a more classical metal sound similar to older Mayhem or Celtic Frost. Songs like “Sons of Fire & Brimstone Levitate!” and “Aiwass Arisen” really take me back to a time when this music was edgy and its evil-sounding riffs and atmospheres peaked my morbid curiosity instead of feeling apathetic.

But Embrace of Thorns is one of those bands that when you hear one song, you’ve pretty much heard them all. These songs are distinctive enough to carry themselves but when you listen to the entirety of “Darkness Impenetrable”, the fury of its blasting drums, the damp vocal reverb and shredded guitars, they will start to run together after a while. I think the occult mysticism gets lost in the punk-rock style aggression that Embrace of Thorns uses to compose and perform each and every song. So that is certainly what separates them further from a band like Deathspell Omega and groups them closer together with bands like Vader or Belphegor.

Another thing about the music of Embrace of Thorns is that if you compare the beginning and endings of each song, they sound entirely too similar to each other. To explain, I believe that great musicianship can stay in the same point for a while because, technically, they can continue to improvise or “jam” on a certain chord progression or key. But good songwriting takes the listener through several points. The further the song gets through these points, the more the listening experience feels more like an odyssey. A record like that would have multiple highs and lows. My point is, Embrace of Thorns are great musicians who produce a sonically static brand of music. It never really goes up and down. It is kept at a high level of speed and power throughout each and every song. This king of music can only achieve, at best, a lukewarm reception from any audience that aren’t populated by other musicians.

If bands like Gorgoroth, Orcustus and Dead Congregation are to your taste, you will more than likely find something to enjoy with “Darkness Impenetrable”. Personally, this album didn’t strike any chords with me but I don’t find the music to be unworthy of some praise.

Originally published on Metal-Temple.com, 8-13-2015.