Sunday, August 14, 2011

Darkthule - Beyond the Endless Horizons (2004)

Darkthule are yet another of the NS-associated black metal acts to originate out of Greece in the 21st century, but they're perhaps the most subtle of the lot. Their lyrics revolve around the same basal restoration of Europe to its ancient values, a cleansing of culture from the poisoning of outside influences, but without the epithet slinging rigmarole you might expect of the niche. Beyond the Endless Horizons is, like many of its Scandinavian influences, absorbed in the elemental and pagan concepts of antiquity, but this is by no means restricted to the words, for the music itself provides an antithesis to the notion of complexity or innovation.

Ripping, raw streams of chords given resonance through a hefty dose of reverb, they hammer along a similar course to Norse legends Immortal, Mayhem and Enslaved on their formative works of the early 90s. I actually enjoy the distant dissonance they create through the low fi production of the debut; but on the other hand, the actual guitar patterns leave me less than inspired, and the rather standard rasp to the vocals and monotonous blasting rhythms simply don't manifest into anything truly malevolent or memorable. This is an admittedly brief record, clocking in at around 27 minutes (much longer if you've got the re-release with bonus demos), with only four blackened tracks at its core, book-ended by a bland if atmospheric acoustic guitar sequences with some special effects. But most of the metal here moves at the same accelerated tempo, with nary a difference between the drums in "Revealment of the Cosmic Harmony", "The Lightning and the Sun", or "Beyond the Endless Horizons".

Unflattering patterns of notes cascade and careen through landscapes of far less color than the cover art might hint, and the band is also privy to those sorts of transitions where the beat will stop entirely and a tremolo sequence will ring out into the horizon. If these were impressive riffs, then the technique would be easier to appreciate, but in this case the breaks are just as vapid as when the band is blasting along with the full strength of vocals, drums, and bass. The album is incredibly difficult to distinguish from so many others of its style, and yet there is nothing truly lamentable about the performance here. It's stock, aggressive black metal with an airy drift of atmosphere that wouldn't be out of place on some through barren plains, the skies overcast and a storm possible brewing somewhere on the horizon. This in of itself isn't bad. But at no time does it ever surge 'beyond' that visual border, and it ultimately offers only the least ambitious of absorptions.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10] (with the speed of the winds)

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