It’s been six years since Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, hailing from Dormagen, Germany, have released a full-length record. On April 12th, 2019, ‘Mardom’, the sixth album of the Black Metal group counting 22 years of nihilistic and satanic musical existence, was released through War Anthem Records. Not adhering to trends and thus evoking the slogan of Euronymous‘ anti-mosh campaign of his label Deathlike Silence Records, the four-piece band stays true to misanthropy and unadulterated rawness in their music. The band itself clarifies: “Almost forgotten traditions are kept firmly.”
The intro Inception of Atemporal Transition creates a sense of menace and tension: Rain-like white noise interspersed with metallic clashing sounds evoke an array of associations, amplified by a sense of void and futility that is created by ambient wind sounds and a quiet near-whispering growl by singer and rhythm guitarist Onielar. We are prepared for the hair-raising and immediate onslaught of track number two Mardom – Echo Zmory.
Lunatic laughs, hair-raising vocals with syllables rolling out like battery fire, merge perfectly with the challenging immediacy of the crispily produced and ecstatic instrumental chaos: Hectic guitars, pristine high-speed drum work as well as refreshing timing regarding non-cliché slow-downs build a blood-thirst-inducing and powerful introduction to the record. Atmosphere is created without skidding down into the goth corniness that Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult clearly distance themselves from. Staying true to the tradition of original Scandinavian Black Metal that the German band lives by, the song ends with more toned-down and thrashy drumming and sounds evoking crackling fire before moving into A Sweven Most Devout with full and speedy force.
Slowing down drum hits heating up the soundscape keep reappearing throughout the track that nonchalantly plays with instrumental tempo variations whilst staying brutal and straight-forward. The somewhat more epic and slow ending does not compromise on energetic force, however, and rather fans the flames for the next one.
Driving tempo and dominant tom-hits push the fourth song T.O.W.D.A.T.H.A.B.T.E forward. The combination of blurred fast riffs and eerie melodic passages evoking the haunting and relentless aesthetic that is so present during DNS’ stage performances make an intriguing combination. The dualistic mood of this track is amplified by polyphonic vocals in which a hollow and daemonic guttural voice is, with a bit of retardation, placed underneath Onielar’s screams like a shadow.
A Beseechment Twofold, with 6:21 minutes the longest track of the album, starts off with noises somewhere in between jackhammer and ambience, the latter of which pertains a little in the background once the instrumentals have set in, and keeps reappearing subtly in the undergrowth of the impenetrable thicket of sound. The vocals on this one have a clearly-articulated yet vile storytelling quality, and the song is generally balanced by a peak of tempo towards the middle. Thanks to syncopic runs and more carried passages, we are far from moving into the all-too-prevalent tendency toward monotony in Black Metal, more focused on honouring the old school Scandinavian sound.
The most striking feature of the next song Exaudi Domine are the nifty drum breaks convincingly moving us through different tempi and rhythmic patterns. Unsettling syncopes are presented with a full guitar sound, something that seems defining for the entire record: The sound appears as a balanced combination of cold old-school rawness and a somewhat warm and all-encompassingly distinct projection of both instruments and vocals. A chokingly expiring scream and a gasp for air end the track; however, The Boundless Beast is far from losing agency.
The beast of the title appears to be honoured in a ritualistic aural feast, playing with tense slowness, choral backgrounds and whispering screams. The bass line with its crackling lo-fi sound gets showcased towards the beginning and ties the track together throughout, before everything fades out into bright and bitterly resounding guitars.
The eighth track Widma appears as a sort of interlude that is, however, a track in its own right: A noisy, slow and quiet start brushing the ear drums like icy wind; hissing and daemonic vocals mingle into metallic sounds, creating a cold and ambient emptiness with a nevertheless crushing weight. The so evoked sense of menace and malice pertains throughout the following, now all the more effective onslaught of Imperishable Soulless Gown and maybe steals the listener’s attention for this fast and evil track that does not quite stay in the ear as prominently as the preceding pieces.
The Sphere marks the finale of ‘Mardom.’ There is a certain exuberance to the melodies, and the drums showcase a very plastic and well-produced sound – perhaps too much so for Black Metal purists – varying between downright blast-beats and more nifty rhythmic work. This last track is a sinister celebration of vastness that dishes pretty much everything the record has so far offered us, even a second choral voice once again. The end appears quick and easy, in a way unexcited before a piano melody mingling into ambient hissing seems to lead us into a dark and resounding vault.
In short: This album may not reinvent the wheel but it is a delightful listening experience for everyone appreciating Norwegian Black Metal from the early 90s. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult deliver true and untarnished German Black Metal honouring the Scandinavian roots of the sub-genre whilst creating a record rotten and vile to the core.
Get your hands on Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult’s ‘Mardom’ HERE!