Solfernus' Path

Written by: NB on 29/12/2009 21:56:24

I realise that there is a huge contingent of Rockfreaks.net readers saying: "Where is the review of Darzamat's new album? It is surely one of the most important releases of the decade and I must know the score!". Yeah right...

Darzamat: a strange name for a band, don't you think? Well in this case it's perfectly apposite. This band is strange, a little known act from Poland whose music is hard to define. I can't very well call it gothic metal because it's a bit too heavy for that but I certainly can't call it black metal because it's way too symphonic and melodic for that (the true black metal elite tend to eschew anything that sounds more symphonic than a lawnmower so I don't think I could get this past them). Anyway that's unimportant. As I will explain, my real dilemma is whether the sparse moments of greatness on this album combine to form a whole which is any way noteworthy.

The first thing to say is that it's a pretty varied release, for which fact you have to give the band some credit. Unfortunately, the quality is just as variable as the style. "Pain Collecter", for instance, is boringly similar to Lacuna Coil and "Lunar Silhouette" is just a pointless soundtrack to nothing. At the other end of the scale, however, you find songs pleasantly reminiscent of Cradle of Filth. The hurried guitar rhythms and monotone, female vocals on "Vote for Heresy" are particularly Filthy. Then there are the usual epic, slow, rhythmic parts - such as the mid-section of "False Sleepwalker". These are executed exceptionally well on this album but are spoilt somewhat by some unusually bland, harsh vocals (the musical equivalent of mashed potato) that have seeped into most of the ten tracks of any substance to be found on the album. Mixed in with all that there is the very occasional period of guitar solos and other sounds layered in a way that is unusual in the genre and that actually makes you sit up and take notice.

Obviously any band in this genre is squaring up against the likes of Nightwish and just as obviously they don't come close because of a lack of attention to detail in the orchestral arrangements. If you take the intro to "Final Conjuration" as an example you'll notice a sudden, jarring transition from the nice, fast intro into the following measures which is reminiscent of the rollercoaster changes in mood found in a film score. Whilst I enjoy this kind of imaginative contrast when found in the work of other artists, it isn't very well done here and unfortunately this device is found in quite a lot of places in the album. You might say that it's hardly a fair comparison; when you have quadruple-platinum record sales, like Nightwish, you can afford to hire the London Philharmonic Orchestra to do your fiddly bits. But having said that, all of Nightwish's fancy filmic arrangements were composed by Tuomas Holopainen alone and if he can do it why have so few of the countless other gothic metal bands succeeded in achieving something similar?

So the album is lacking in polish (because it's entirely in English... get it?) but I find myself listening to the more novel moments and thinking: "that's cool... isn't it?"; maybe I've just listened to it so many times that I can't tell anymore. As a last resort, I think it comes down to this: I can't honestly see myself playing anything from this album in the future so it's momentary goodness will unfortunately have to be banished to the realms of the mediocre.


Download: False Sleepwalker, Vote for Heresy, Mesmeric Seance
For The Fans Of: Sirenia, Dark Moor, After Forever
Listen: MySpace

Release Date: 20.03.09
Massacre Records

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