DARKANE
"Demonic Art"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Variations Of An Eye Crush
02. Leaving Existence
03. Demonic Art
04. Absolution
05. Execution 44
06. Impetuous Constant Chaos
07. Demigod
08. Soul Survivor
09. The Killing Of I
10. Wrong Grave
11. Still In Progress
12. Wrath Connection

RATING: 8/10

Though DARKANE has remained somewhat hidden in the shadows cast by melodic metal heavyweights such as IN FLAMES and SOILWORK over the years, being underrated hasn't stopped the Swedes from improving and progressing with each album. Fortunately, and one major reason why I predict "Demonic Art" to be the album that boosts this band's credibility a rung or two up the ladder, their evolutionary path has not led to the same 'written-for-the-masses' territory the aforementioned acts have set up camp in over the last couple of albums. There can be some subtle comparisons made between "Demonic Art" and some of SOILWORK's earlier material, particularly in the vocals of new singer, Jens Broman (ironic as Björn "Speed" Strid appeared on a late '90s DARKANE demo), but the overall vibe of this one is much thrashier and more aggressive than much of the melodeath coming out of Sweden these days.

To write an entire album conceptualized around a single song, as this disc is with "Organic Canvas" from "Layer Of Lies", is an interesting endeavor to say the least, but DARKANE handles the chore with a level of intelligence and depth that has been missing from previous efforts. Shades of DIMMU BORGIR's dramatic orchestral flourish get things going with "Variations Of An Eye Crush". Said tune's atmospheric, Danny Elfman-on-metal vibe and climactic build-up flows nicely into the chugging thrash of "Leaving Existence". From this point on, "Demonic Art" maintains a rather consistent level of intensity, driven by the two-pronged assault of guitarists Christofer Malmström and Klas Ideberg and Broman's multi-faceted vocals; each of the three taking their own individual moments to shine. In regards to the guitar players, the aggressive as hell, death metal riffing on "Impetuous Constant Chaos" and "Still In Progress", or the skilled soloing and harmonizing done throughout all serve as reasons to brag. Broman proves himself worthy several times during "Demonic Art", but makes his biggest impact as a team player when directing his choir through larger-than-life choruses as he does during the title track and "Absolution". Other choice cuts like "Execution 44" and "Wrath Connection" show DARKANE's growth as well-rounded and aggression-minded songwriters.

After five albums of steady progression, "Demonic Art" sees DARKANE finally ready to take on their Swedish brethren and the rest of the world right along with them. Here is an album that will make its mark by being more technically sound and musical than the most recent SCAR SYMMETRY disc and loads more metallic and aggressive than what SOILWORK or IN FLAMES have been doing recently. Not quite brilliant or timeless, but goddamned impactful nonetheless.

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