Daath Shadow - Crowns For Kings
Osmose Productions
Melodic Death/Black Metal
11 songs (46:42)
Release year: 2009
Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Goat

Hailing from the Netherlands, Daäth Shadow are a mass of contradictions. As you'd expect from Crowns For Kings' artwork, the music is atmospheric and dark, but it's also surprisingly clear and easy to listen to - Melodeath fans won't particularly struggle, for one. The Death Metal takes precedence over the Black, with all sorts of electronic and ambient sounds going on beneath the intriguingly catchy riffage, and Dan Swano's mastering means that this is an album that could quite easily fit on a wide variety of Metalheads' shelves. It's enjoyably diverse and structured well, with various interlude pieces breaking up the drama (in a good way) and the songwriting is superb, fitting multiple styles together in different ways and keeping you listening throughout. The quality is maintained throughout, growing gradually darker yet putting the more melodeath-y moments at the start and reeling the listener in like a fish on Daäth Shadow's line.

There's only so much information available on the band. The occult subject matter of Crowns For Kings means that interviews are restricted to the sheer minimum, and there's even a death threat on their MySpace (cough) against "pigs" who use Satanic imagery whilst having no "faith". What is revealed, however, is pretty fascinating - there are seven members, apparently due to the number's esoteric meaning, and these musicians have all played in other bands, but prefer to remain anonymous. At least four provide various vocals, the various guitars, bass and drums shared out, but ZLT provides 'narratives, samples', and for once those usually sidelined elements are implemented well. The Great Sabbath utilises them very well, for example, creating a strangely psychedelic soundscape beneath the yowls and riffs, getting all catchy on yo'ass with the slow churns of the guitar towards the end speeding up at the exact peak moment of headbanging potential. Servant Of Lucifer rattles along like Belphegor at their best, moving between speedy crushing and mid-paced atmospheric dirge, whilst the title track is even slower and more anthemic with a truly great solo.

Daäth Shadow clearly have an underground agenda at play, so please don't mistake anything about them as commercially-oriented - tracks go on long enough to make it quite obvious that they've not been cut into label-friendly shape, for one, and the frequent interludes are suitably dark and mysterious - Dominus Diabolus' chanting and percussion, for one. Also, as mentioned, the further you listen the darker things get - gradually with Anthem Of Death's pulverising blows, faster with the more Black For Him, and finally reaching a crescendo with the nine-minute Nicolstreet 1888. Starting with ambience and switching to near-Heavy Metal flamboyant soloing, the track doesn't drop its murk even during these frequent widdles, and will have even the most stringent of Power Metal fans banging their heads as though possessed.

Nothing that Crowns For Kings does is especially groundbreaking, but it is extremely skilful for a debut, leading me to suspect those anonymous members are more known in the scene than they want to be. Whoever they are, they've done a fine job here, granting the world both a debut album sure to please fans of the style and a name to watch for the future.

Killing Songs :
The Great Sabbath, Servant Of Lucifer, For Him, Nicolstreet 1888, Through The Dark Waterfalls
Goat quoted 81 / 100
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