Darkness Ablaze – It All Shall Burn (Darkstorm Records)Friday, 3rd November 2023
German quintet Darkness Ablaze started as a six-piece back in the early 2000’s, releasing a self-titled album in 2007 as well as the follow-up Shadowreign in 2010 on domestic label Black Bards Entertainment before disbanding a year later. Reassembling in 2018 with two original members (guitarist Jens Böhm and vocalist Theo Georgitsaros) and recruiting three new members, they would release in 2021 an EP Creator to set the stage for this new full-length It All Shall Burn. The band develop a style that contains melodic death metal as its foundation, sprinkling in elements of black or folk-like accents to diversify the atmosphere, never sacrificing the purity or powerful impact in their songwriting.
The willingness to incorporate everything from acoustic guitars to viola (guest Robin Porta contributing to “Celine” and “Ghost Path” in the latter regard) allows the band’s natural electric proclivities to shine – fellow guitarist Marcel White along with Jens using every cultural/harmonic tool collectively for catchy riffs/melodic refrains, from doomy to tremolo-fueled heavier pastures. The passionate pleas from the larynx of Theo at low growls to glass-shattering scream intensity immediately find favor on the ripping opening title cut – his mechanized ‘burn’ repetition seething next to the layers of addictive riffs and groove meets progressive transitional movement. Diversity in arrangements keeps the flow of the record on point – the band willing to expand a bit instrumentally to inject a solid groove ethic in certain tracks, then dropping into some clean ambiance angles only to shift back into this alluring, hypnotic melodic death framework. Check out the seven-minute plus “Ageless Shapeless” that incorporates dual growl/spoken word aspects, thunderous drum fills from Markus Weber, and those rally-oriented riffs that make people headbang with reckless abandon. The reference points may be obvious (a little Omnium Gatherum here, a touch old In Flames or Dark Tranquillity there), but the way these musicians push the musicianship and heightened sense of hooks creates this aural cocktail that has a deeper connection – conjuring up a lot of the early 90’s seeds of this style.
Contrasts keep Darkness Ablaze sharp, mindful that for every extreme riff or blistering vocal passage, you need the occasional calmer, clean part to set up the next sequence (the closer “A God With Countless Heads” typifying all sides of the group over the course of its 8:07 timeframe). The long break seems to have lifted the band to stronger heights musically – It All Shall Burn a testament to the beauty, drama, and strength of great melodic death metal.