January 13, 2015

Desolate Shrine - The Heart of the Netherworld

Written by Kevin Page.

Cover art by L.L. from Desolate Shrine.

I've noticed a trend with these Finn's. 1st album - 46 minutes, 2nd album - 55 minutes and now their 3rd album, The Heart of the Netherworld, clocks in at 63 minutes. Don't be fooled, the band hasn't gone soft or introspective by any stretch of the imagination. This is dark, punishing Finnish death metal right from the get-go. If you enjoyed any of the bands previous work, you'll feel right at home. If they are new to you, there's no better jumping in point.

In a unique twist, the band is comprised of 3 members: LL, who handles all musical duties, RS on vocals (also a member of Lie in Ruins) and ML on vocals. The dual vocal approach might go unnoticed if you are not paying attention, as there isn't a huge variation in styles. But upon closer inspection you'll hear a deeper growl and a slighter higher shriek. Ultimately I think its something that works on a more subconscious level than anything else, providing a bit of variety.

Musically this is a lengthy record to digest since it's layered, diverse and artfully crafted. Most bands of this ilk would be fine churning out the standard 3-5 minute songs. But Desolate Shrine eschews that idea by spitting forth ones ranging from 6 to 14 minutes. And none of these numbers waste any time with multiple minutes of just pure atmosphere or ambiance to "pad" their length. Each track rumbles along like a expertly designed out of control wooden roller coaster at night in some abandoned amusement park in the middle of nowhere. The main guitars are loud and meaty, the production is superb (with just enough filth), and the serene melodic guitars underneath the brutality really allow you to digest all of the madness properly.

While I have enjoyed the bands previous efforts, The Heart of the Netherworld ups their game considerably, and is simply their finest work to date. A must listen.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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