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Lucifer's kingdom? Wotan's is more like it. - 84%

hells_unicorn, October 11th, 2011

It has been speculated by some that black and death metal, particularly the melodic strains that began cropping up in Norway and Sweden, are all but joined at the hip with each other. There is definitely something to be said for the similarities between latter day Dimmu Borgir and a handful of Finnish and Swedish bands that took some influences from the Gothenburg scene, but there was always a very noticeable aesthetic contrast. The best way to sum it up would be that while the melodic death metal style is often dark and cold, black metal is forever suspended in a frozen, night-ridden wasteland comparable to the surface of a dead planet. Nevertheless, the commonality that exists is definitely open to hybrid ventures, and as far back as the beginnings of the Gothenburg scene and the 2nd wave of black metal, Dissection was there to offer up a middle ground between the two.

While it is grossly unfair to dismiss the recent Bavarian outfit Thulcandra as a Dissection knockoff, at least anymore than it would be to denounce Saint Vitus as a Black Sabbath clone, it is very obvious the affinity that these Germans share with their Swedish forefathers. The auspicious cover of the title song of said black/death pioneers debut album “The Somberlain” being included at the tail end of this fine album seems more as the final icing on what is a beautifully depressive and frostbitten cake. The melding of these styles manifests itself primarily in a vocal sound that tends to resemble the agonized screams of At The Gates, while the riff set is a methodical reinterpretation of death metal infused black metal albums heard out of early 2000s Immortal, though with an even more thrash oriented edge out of the drum work of session member Seraph (better known for his work with Dark Fortress).

For all the undertones of darkness and evil, there is a slight hint of Nordic heroism and warfare to be found within the music that bears some similarity to Viking era Bathory, or perhaps even recent works heard out of Demonaz’s various non-Immortal projects. This is particularly noteworthy when acoustic guitars are employed, such as the serene yet looming landscapes painted at the intro of “Frozen Kingdom” and the somewhat darker and haunting one of “Spirit Of The Night”. But even the straight up blizzards with riffs blazing away as heard in “Fallen Angel’s Dominion” and “Night Eternal” have this air of an epic struggle between two mighty armies and oceans of blood being spilled upon the permafrost. All the while, the technique of all in congress proves near impeccable as the nebulousness of the 2nd wave is absent and a more thrash-like rhythmic precession stands in its place.

Yes, this sort of album has been heard before, but it definitely should be heard again, many times. While Thulcandra is not wholly wanting in originality, their influences are worn quite proudly on their gauntlets, and the name of their game is quality over experimentation. It is not quite the revolutionary fit of brilliance that Dissection’s early works were, but it holds a pretty massive candle to them, and dwarfs the more recent offerings of said band. Pretty much anyone who finds the combination of archaic early 90s frosty blackened pictures with a somewhat crisper production quality more often attributed to “Sons Of Northern Darkness” appealing should check this out, along with the recently released follow up that further cement where this band stands.

The heirs to Dissection's throne ... - 70%

Orion, April 15th, 2011

Finally ! A band that can play DISSECTION's unique take on Swedish black/death metal style !

Fallen Angel's Dominion kicks off with "In the Realm of a Thousand Deaths", a short instrumental not dissimilar from "At the Fathomless Depths" ... setting the mood for the eight songs that constitute the ultimate tribute to DISSECTION.

It's all there. The harsh production, the icy tremolo picked melodies, the acoustics, the tasteful lead guitar work, and of course, the twin guitar assault and harmonies.

This is what the third DISSECTION album should have sounded like, and to call Thulcandra a "copycat" or a "clone" is an insult to a band that obviously took their time to craft this black/death metal masterpiece. Stefen Kummerer stated in an interview that this album took several years in the making, and from the quality of the music, and the multi-layered guitarwork, this is apparent. The songs are catchy enough to grab you from the first listen, and complex/layered enough to maintain your interest and grow on you through repeated listens.

I don't see the strong DISSECTION influences as a cheap imitation, rather, this black/death metal assault that never compromises its sense of melody is the continuation of the musical foundations set by Jon Nödtveidt.

Although I initially rated this album 100%, because I was very impressed by Dissection's pseudo-revival ... however, after repetitive listens, it becomes apparent that Fallen Angels Dominion lacks the edge The Somberlain / Storm At The Light's Bane had, in terms of songwriting. The riffs and melodies are noticably weaker and simpler than those of Dissection.

There is a lot of room for improvement, and I hope that the next Thulcandra album will address the flaws of Fallen Angel's Dominion.

Despite its shortcomings, it's a highly recommended album for fans of Dissection, Sacramentum, Unanimated, Vinterland, and Necrophobic.

Potential mired by kinks to be worked - 70%

doomknocker, June 30th, 2010

This band has seen quite a bit of name-dropping on online forums (both the necessary and the unneeded) in recent weeks, and, due to my cat-killing curiosity, I just had to find out what the hubbub was all about. More often than not when such a situation occurs, the group doesn’t fulfill their end of the musical bargain, leaving us grizzled metal veterans confused and bothered. Honestly…it wouldn’t kill the “Instant Fame, Just Add Heaviness” bands if they would inject some much-needed infectiousness into their albums. I’d mention specific groups whose inability to knock it outta the park warrant a stylistic kick to the nuts, but that would get me into trouble. And who wants that? But I’m getting ahead of myself here…after all, I’d never even heard any mention of THULCANDRA before outside of some obscure-ass DARKTHRONE song, and I really shouldn’t cast such judgment on a group I’d not heard before.

So, with both ears open, and both hands held together, I dove head-first into what they had to offer me…

One thing I’ll give THULCANDRA credit for upon first listen…given their heavy-with-an-epic-touch black metal sound, it’s very, very hard to makes things continue to sound original after all these fiery, soot-clad years. Nevertheless, they’re able to use this musical approach and conjure forth some pretty wicked material, modernistic with that older feel that brings to life the deathly cold cover art rather well. The riffing and leads couple bouncy melody with an acidic bitterness that is blackened to the bone and earnest in approach, reminding this listener of the oozing chaos of vintage GORGOROTH combined with the speed-laden violence of first-few-albums-era DARK FUNERAL in a rather natural way, and when combined with the somewhat-drowned-out bass lines and triggered hyper-blasts it makes for some solid, well-to-do evil material that does what it can to counteract the negative aspects the album possesses. And sadly, those do come to pass, as this is not what I would deem a perfect album…for as good as the material is, it’s at times mired by somewhat lifeless, croaking vocals and a rather hollow production value which renders much of the album thin and a bit ungainly. Considering their musical scheme, I think that a harsher, more wall-of-sound feel would’ve been of beneficence to the album, as would scaling down many of the songs’ lengths, where 4 minutes, 5 at best, of material is pushed a bit further than is necessary depending on the songs. Such lengths can be seen as important for the more epic tracks like “Frozen Kingdom” and “Everlasting Fire”, but it doesn’t always work out best as heard on “Night Eternal” and “Spirit of the Night”. Still, such wayward performances aren’t as ipecac-on-the-ears as others of their ilk, to which I give plenty of brownie points to the group.

So in the end, THULCANDRA has potential present, and would probably be “next big thing” material if they can rein in what limitations are just as present. I can see why this name has been popping up as often as it has, and it’s my hope that their musical way of life can only get better from here.

A spell was cast and the sky turned red... - 80%

HS, June 15th, 2010

After 7 years Thulcandra - more a side project than a real band - finally released their first album on the Austrian label Napalm Records. Their style can be described as Swedish mixture of black/death metal directly coming out from the 90s. It's mostly fast paced and melodic with high-pitched guitars, but it also has calm acoustic parts and some nice solos in the songs. Although Thulcandra hails from Germany, they sound thoroughly Swedish.

Even more, this is how Dissection's third album could have sounded like if they didn't change their style on Reinkaos. The influence couldn't be more obvious: Take the song structures, the fast drumming, the icy guitars, the acoustic parts, even the cover artwork was made the legendary Necrolord himself. Everything here sounds exactly like Dissection. But does that mean plagiarism? Yes and no. Steffen Kummerer stated in an interview that they didn't even try to be overly original, they see "Fallen Angel's Dominion" as a TRIBUTE to the bands that influenced them: Dissection, Sacramentum, Unanimated and Eucharist. But in my opinion the music is original enough that it may not be regarded as a mere rip-off of these bands.

The songs are all on a constantly high level. There is not much to complain about since the musicians perfectly know how to handle their instruments. The production is almost perfect, I think it could be a bit more raw, but that's a matter of taste.

One of my favourite songs is "Everlasting Fire". It begins with a short melodic intro, suddenly the drums kick in, the vocalist shouts an angry "UH!!" and the riff-massacre begins. A real headbanger.

Same for the title song "Fallen Angel's Dominion". One killer riff after another makes a real highlight out of it. It's maybe the best song on the album and Jon Nödtveidt (RIP) would be proud if he could have heard it.

All in all it's a really nice album. The only problem is that it simply lacks identity. Don't get me wrong, although the album may not be very original, I'd recommend it to fans of this style any time. But for the next album I hope that they won't orientate themselves too much on their Swedish idols again.

Thulcandra - Fallen Angel’s Dominion - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, June 5th, 2010

Hello again my friends, nice to see you all after an unusually quiet couple of weeks from myself in the domains of Much has prevented me from getting any metalworks done in this time but I announce my return with the debut album from Germans Thulcandra on Napalm Records. While they themselves might not be worthy of announcing my return with, their staggering similarity to one legendary band by the name of Dissection garners them that privilege and it is with here I begin.

In describing Thulcandra's sound to you I must stress the level of similarity between "Fallen Angel's Dominion" and Dissection's two genre classics, "The Somberlain" and "Storm of the Light's Bane". Though the band might have you believe otherwise, from the classic (though stereotypically epic) Necrolord cover this is unashamed Dissection plagiarism, yet done well enough to be viewed as Dissection's fourth album (or third for the cynics who never really took to 2006's "Reinkaos"). The mixture of developed twin guitar melodies, bouts of hammering black/death metal, periods of somber acoustic guitar as well as song titles that could be lifted straight from their heroes' notebook ("Night Eternal", "Spirit of the Night") make for a product the legendary Swedes could have been proud of themselves, yet it does leave the question of exactly what Thulcandra's career intentions are with this sound.

The likes of "Everlasting Fire", which has a greater Watain feel about it, and "Night Eternal" which is to "Fallen Angel's Dominion" what "Night's Blood" is to "Storm of the Light's Bane", make for very well-structured and enjoyable songs both on record and, having seen Dissection live twice before their suicidal demise, on stage. Finishing with a cover of, you guessed it, Dissection's "The Somberlain", "Fallen..." is sufficiently great enough to be worthy of owning for anyone with a passing interest in black/death metal and a very good record in it's own right, but for the sheer lack of unique identity in what is still their first album Thulcandra won't get top marks from me until I hear something new. In the meantime however this will sit very nicely in the 'D' section of my music collection...

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