25 Jun 2021 - Knut
Atmospheric Black Metal | Wolves Of Hades | Release date: 26 May 2021
This album got me hooked on the first listen, and for me that is a warning. A lifetime of listening to music has thought me that such albums get boring after a couple of spins. But that did not happen with this captivating album. While listening to this album you will be immersed in the coldness of Black Metal, the warmth of Death Metal, the intensity of Crust-Punk with its d-beats, but above all you will get the soaring ambiance of Atmospheric Black Metal with angst-ridden lyrics.
The Swedish band Dömkraft came into the dark metal music scene when the band Totem Skin disbanded in 2017. Christoffer Öster from that band, created his own solo project through Dödsrit and released the first self-titled album in 2017, a Black Metal album with elements of Crust-Punk. Only a year later Dödsrit released the second album, Spirit Crusher and with it took a step or two into the soundscapes of Atmospheric Black Metal, particularly with the title track at the very end of that album. And for this year´s release, Mortal Coil, Öster has teamed up with three very capable metal/crust musicians from the Netherlands. And the result is quite remarkable.
It might be a bit unfair to push the band into one category, but the Atmospheric Black Metal category has a much wider range than the pure coldness of Black Metal and the rapid intensity of Crust. On this album the riff structures together with the tremolos and arpeggios, the dynamic drumming and rolling bass that is joined by the growling and sometimes screaming vocals lead us into atmospheric soundscapes. Add to this the melodies the band pours out are, for want of a better word, catchy. A word not often associated with dark metal music. It is of course also due to the Death Metal and Crust influences that spill into the music on this album.
The first track ”The Third Door” is building up the passion and intensity with the characteristic melodic tremolos and arpeggios, creating a melodic theme and a cascade of heavy riff structures that grab your attention and hold it until the end of the album. The Crust influences are clearly heard when the d-beats take over and through the screaming vocals both on this track and the others.
The next track ”Shallow Graves” leads us into its soundscapes with melodic riffs and tremolos before there is a shift in tempo and the track leans more towards the Death Metal side than any other part of the album. On this track the drummer and the bassist really get to work and make for an energetic track that whirls fast forward supporting the growling vocals and guitars pouring out heavy riffs. In the middle there is a tempo-change where it feels like the music contemplates the previous parts of the track. The music picks up pace again and energetically leads the track all the way to the end.
The title track, ”Mortal Coil”/i> begins almost swirling around itself with the tremolos and melodic riffs behind the screaming vocals. There is a shift in tempo that prepares the ground for an emotional guitar solo seldom heard in this kind of music, which is beautifully performed. The music gathers pace yet again, the melodic riffs and solo guitar leading it fast to the end, the d-beats prominent verging on blast beats. But in between the high-speed parts of the track the music also shifts tempo, quiets down for some dwelling parts.
The last track, ”Apathetic Tongues” is, like the others, drenched in harmonies, melodic riffs, shifts in dynamics and styles. It is masterfully performed, making an emotional atmospheric soundscape sometimes with high pitched guitars that might be a nod to Post-Rock.
A sign of accomplished musicians is that they are able to recognize the ability to hold back, to take a break, a pause when playing fast and heavy music. This takes skills and bravery, especially in the extreme part of heavy music. Those musical elements are so well done throughout this album – take pause, shift tempo and open up for reflection. Beside the melodies they pour out, this is probably one of the reasons why this album stands out.