Iron Bonehead have a habit of unearthing metal gems from around the world, and have struck gold once again with Slovenian duo Dalkhu, and their second full length album Descend…into Nothingness. Mesmerising with their rich black metal pallette and crushing with a modern death metal intensity, they’ve made an album as beautifully dark as that spectacular painted artwork.
Pitch Black Cave enters with blistering blackened death metal; blastbeats, chunky guitar riffs and deep brutal gutturals leading one into the assumption this could be a fairly straight forward, no-frills death metal affair This is until out of nowhere the pace slows and a melodic tremolo riff bursts through, dazzling the listener and really setting up the tone of the rest of the album. The track barrels forth between all out bursts of death metal devastation, mid-paced chunky riffage conveying an epic feel, and slower sections allowing beautiful lead guitar to emerge brightly like stars shining on a dark, cold night – all with a keen sense of melodic intent. In short, the pacing is brilliant, and keeps the track ever interesting and well rounded. While they’re a two piece, the session drummer definitely holds his own, frantically bashing the kit to pieces in the faster sections combining with devastating effect with the tumultuous riffage, while keeping a tight beat with great use of bass drumming in the slower sections. One could make the link with the sound of other Eastern European black metal bands such as Nokturnal Mortum and Hate Forest, but in truth their death metal edge really sets them apart enough to make such lazy comparisons unfair to Dalkhu’s sound, one that’s very much their own.
While the tracks are well paced, there’s also great variety over the course of the album, while each track does retain Dalkhu’s penchant for melody. The Fireborn is dark and gloomy in tone with slower more mournful riffs, a little dissonance with the vocals taking a more prominent edge in the mix, while In the Woods is more epic, with rousing lead guitar running alongside mid-paced melodic riffs throughout the track, based in more of a viking metal sound, with Windir coming to mind, and Distant Cry has some folky tendencies among it’s riffage, with the drums packing more of that frantic punch from the first track. The last piece E.N.N.F. is an epic ten minute closer, an ambitious piece brimming with a multitude of melodic riffs, paced brilliantly with soaring leads breaking the track up with a sound as epic as the track length, and there’s an extra energy to the guttual vocals compared to the extra tracks.
Dalkhu’s varied approach has everything about it to win over fans from all over the extreme metal spectrum, perfectly melding punishing brutality with epic melodies and folky undertones into a blackened death metal album that really stands out from the pack – a real breath of fresh air.
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