Those Opposed Records
Claiming to play “authentic middle age black metal”, French black metal band Darkenhöld this year releases their brand new full length album, Castellum, presenting a style that is vastly different than the what has become the known as the French style of bands like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega. Instead, on their third full length offering, the band presents a style that leans closer to the traditional style of black metal.
Album opener Strongholds Eternal Rivalry quickly transports one to the vast landscape, and while the riffs present a harsh and cold atmosphere, at the same time the band manages to invoke a somewhat liberating feeling in the listener. One is quickly reminded of the works of the ambient works of Finnish bands such as Horna or Goatmoon, though as one soon realises that Darkenhöld has included a much heavier viking/folk influence in the songwriting. The combination of the darkness, desolation and the melancholy is also somewhat reminiscent of Drowning the Light.
From the acoustic guitars that often give a nice, melancholic touch to the music, to the unabashed heavy usage of synths (though at times cheesy like on the intro of Glorious Horns), the listener is constantly bathed in a nice ambient. Throughout the album there are also moments where one is so shrouded in the thick soundscape created by the band, that one is reminded of the epic works of Summoning.
The epic-ness that the album exudes brings one back in time to the early releases of Bathory, and that nice fusion of black metal and viking metal. Tracks such as the heroic Majestic Dusk over the Sentinels easily reminds one of Quorthon’s work on Under the Sign of the Black Mark or Blood Fire Death, and is an apt tribute to the legend.
Overall, Castellum is a great release to listen to on a cold day, as Darkenhöld manages to bring out the darkest of emotions within the listener on their third opus.