Darkened - Kingdom of Decay
Edged Circle Productions
Death Metal
11 songs (43'33")
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Alex

Hard to say what possessed Darkened members to step outside of their more established (and sometimes world renowned) death metal acts to produce more death metal in a new venue. Yet here we have it. After debut Into the Blackness EP was met with acclaim the band is out with a full-length Kingdom of Decay on Edged Circle Productions. On display we have seasonal, solid, meaty, slickly produced death metal from the veterans of the genre.

Not certain who the songwriters are for Darkened but guitarists Linus Nirbrant (A Canorous Quintet) and Hempa Brynolfsson had some riffs between them, so they step into it right away with tremolos at the beginning of Dead Body Divination. Many of Kingdom of Decay compositions have some thrashiness to them, so the album doesn’t sound only like less melodic Amon Amarth or late vintage Bolt Thrower, but also like something which could have come from Defleshed or less juicy and devoid of sloppiness Vomitory or Centinex. Powered on by discussion of hellish subjects (The Burning), some songs are almost purely concentrated on thrashy beats (The Old Ones). Underneath and constantly pushing forward are the rhythm section of bass player Tobias Cristiansson (Grave/ ex-Dismember) and drummer Andy Whale (ex-Bolt Thrower, Memoriam). With pedigree like that no wonder the album turns into absolutely pummeling, pulverizing affair. Stylistics like that are preserved mostly throughout, whether the songs get a bit more (but not overly) melodic, as in 1000 Years, or when the compositions make original promise to be slower, drier and stretchier, yet the template returns time and again. Cavernous vocals by Gord Olson and wild howling solos (Dead Body Divination, 1000 Years) by the pair of guitarists complete the picture, sometimes turning into dual & dueling guitar affairs (Cage of Flesh).

With a slight addition to Into the Blackness Kingdom of Decay steps it up in term of atmosphere and layered harmonics. Intro & outro to The White Horse of Pestilence almost make it into clean non-distorted guitar territory, while the title track and Of Unsound Mind become grandiose, enveloping and slightly doomy affairs, especially when it gets to blackened chorus of Of Unsound Mind and longing melodic solo of the title track.

If you don’t need your death metal dripping with rawness, but prefer the polished and professional power in the genre, Kingdom of Decayis exactly that. The fact Dan Swano mastered the album in the famous Unisound Studio explains the sound and serves as additional confirmation. Normally I don’t comment on the cover art, but Kingdom of Decay’s is plain awesome, so Juanjo Castellano Rosado deserves a mention as well.

Killing Songs :
Dead Body Divination, 1000 Years, Kingdom of Decay, Of Unsound Mind
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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