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Hm.... - 100%

BlackMetal213, April 24th, 2012

Mirkwood...named after the dark forest in Tolkien's Middle Earth. This band is a symphonic/atmospheric black metal band from California. They have three recordings released, including a quite amazing split with black metal band Cynestole from Canada. However, this review is not of that recording. This is of the ABSOLUTELY AMAZING demo entitled "Journey's End". Ironically, this is only the beginning for this fascinating band.

This demo was released in 2006 and is the very first demo released by this band after their inception in 2005. Now, the title for this demo may not be completely relevant considering this is only their first demo, and oh fuck, as I have previously stated, is it amazing. The music is full of great orchestrations and catchy riffs and keyboard passages and it is done by only two individuals. This is almost as huge-sounding as Emperor's classic full-length studio album "In The Nightside Eclipse", and this is only a demo! The atmosphere feels as if the listener is on the top of a misty cold mountain while it is snowing, and wind is blowing in all directions. The drums are programmed in a way that they do not sound immensely fake, but they do not sound like real drums, either. This is not a flaw. Not even in the slightest. Why? Simply because while they don't sound exactly real, they don't sound like obviously fake drums (*cough Xasthur cough*). They are not loud in the mix either, which makes more room for the AMAZING guitar melodies, solos, and the major use of keys.

The title track, just shy of 5 minutes, is the demo's shortest track. It is actually the only track on the whole demo with vocals. The vocals last from about 1:45 to 2:10 for the first verse, from around 3:00 to 3:45 for the second, and from around 4:35 to the end of the track for the third (and shortest) verse. So, on the whole demo there are only like 95 seconds of vocals, making the demo mostly instrumental, which is actually okay. The vocals on the track sound somewhat like those of Summoning in a way. Actually, the listener (if familiar with Summoning) can automatically site Summoning as an influence, seeing as the band is based on Tolkien themes and the music has a very epic, atmospheric, and huge sound. This track is absolutely beautiful. The next track, "Winter Path", begins with a beautiful keyboard part and a synth flute. Then just shy of the minute mark come the chugging guitar riffs. These riffs are used a lot in this track. The keys are actually, in my opinion, played at their best on this track out of the other two, and wow, that tremolo riff beginning at 1:55 is absolutely beautiful. One of the highlights. This song is just slightly over 7 minutes long, making it the second longest track on the album (the tracks increase in length as they go). Out of the three tracks on this demo, this has to be my favorite, and it is entirely instrumental, giving much more room to the amazing instrumentals. That solo beginning just after 3:50 is an absolute guarantee for an eargasm and soon after, at 4:22, comes that epic tremolo riff again.

Finally, the third track. This is the longest piece on the demo, clocking in at around 11 and a half minutes. It is also instrumental. It begins with blast beating drums and great tremolo riffs. This pattern repeats itself until 0:45, when the track breaks into a synth and drum passage, and at around 1:07 a VERY ultra-catchy riff comes into play. And wow, does it bring with it an amazing listening experience. Nothing too technical about this track, and it is somewhat repetitive. There's nothing wrong with it though. That keyboard melody beginning at 3 minutes in is astounding.

This is truly (in my VERY HONEST OPINION) the greatest black metal demo I have yet to hear, and I have heard my fair share of black metal demos. None of them caught my attention quite like this one did. At round 23 and a half minutes long, this will make any half hour a positive experience. It is just that brilliant. In fact, I don't think I can find anything wrong with this wonderfully-crafted piece of art, so I give this demo a 100. I rarely would even think to do this, but an exception must be made for this.

A Promising Vision - 87%

WinterBliss, February 18th, 2008

Mirkwood are a symphonic black metal duo out of California. The music is very melodic and catchy; these traits come from both the keyboards and the guitars. There is also a strong atmosphere created by this music, a sombre, natural atmosphere; quite similar to Alcest's Le Secret .


The music itself is structured very well and is diverse. The first track contains numerous melodies and is a very attention grabbing song, where as the second track is more simplistic and develops a main melody and builds off that. I appreciate such differences in a small release. The beginning to "Journey's End" is an impressive start, and something that sucked me in the second I heard it. Along with that, the keyboard part that starts at 6:45 in "Through Endless Forests" is among one of the catchiest things I've ever heard, it makes me wonder if it was taken from some pop song, especially the part at 7:37.


The musicianship is solid on this album. The guitarist picks out catchy and interesting riffs throughout the demo, along with those riffs he even throws in a nice solo or two. Of course there is your typical tremolo picking, but there are other nice parts which sound a bit more complex(forgive me, i don't know guitar too well). The keyboardist is also at the top of their game, jumping from simple synth passages to intricate melodies. What I like most is that the melodies are shared between the two instruments, rather then one more than the other.


I was pleasantly surprised by this demo, seeing that symphonic stuff isn't my cup of tea, but i found this to be very enjoyable. There are downfalls though of course. The largest one are the programmed drums. While the drums are programmed very well (intricate rhythms, nice fills, etc etc) they sound so obviously fake that they really take away from the demo as a whole. Along with the fake drums, some of the keyboard sections sound too cheesy and add a Disney element that really should not be there.


Overall I find this demo to be very enjoyable and hope to hear more from this band.