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  • Review by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: DunkelNacht's 'Empires of Mediocracy'

A scourging deluge of blackened death is about to be unleashed on the world of underground metal as French/Dutch collaboration DunkelNacht release their third full-length spectacular, 'Empires of Mediocracy'. You’ve no doubt gathered that Dark Matter can’t stop messily fangirling all over this band right now, but trust us, they’re worth every moment of euphoric, dripping hysteria.

Aiming for the cutting edge of metal’s avantgarde, DunkelNacht are not afraid to experiment with an assortment of musical styles and influences that range from black to death to classical to rock, interspersing weighty assaults of extreme metal with creeping, doom-indulged idylls. Similarly, they don’t conform to the usual expectations when it comes to subject matter; despite inviting comparison with black metal giants such as Dark Funeral, Dissection and the Norwegian masters, DunkelNacht are definitively not a satanically-influenced band. Rather than drawing their ire from the juvenile delinquencies of blasphemy and kicking down gravestones (which their mostly secular states are pretty much over with anyway), the band look to the ghastliness of the real world and the way our increasingly polarised stupidities are driving us into a terrifying form of societal idiocracy.

But before musing on more thoughtful matters, DunkelNacht are keen to make their bloodthirsty raging mark, like a metalhead version of the incredible hulk in a fit of fury, engorged musical muscle ripping hackneyed conventions to shreds. The new album launches immediately into 'Relentless Compendium', a track which literally does what it says on the tin, whipping up a fast-paced onslaught of pummelling riffs and savage death vocals. Letting loose their unique sound without restraint, it’s the band making it clear that six years since their last album, they’re back, bitches, stronger than ever and, after a few changes over the years, finally complete with a 100% fully-committed line-up of talented members.

Once the eardrums have been sufficiently battered, 'Servants' settles into a more confidently self-assured groove, with a catchy chorus and some hit-the-spot guitar solos that soar, Icarus-like, to the headiest of heights, following a regular pattern for DunkelNacht where more melodic, meditative moments suddenly erupt into raging epiphanies. 'Eerie Horrendous Obsession', with its killer title, creeps into more macabre territory, with agonising tremolo that gradually tips the listener gasping over the edge, whilst 'Amongst the Remnants of Liberty' holds possession of an almost jazz-like intensity at points, and a hard-rock jauntiness which steadily marches towards something akin to a call to arms. 'Verses and Allegations' takes the listener into Dimmu Borgir-esque realms of dark fantasy, the demonic, utterly feral vocals of M.C Abagor plunging to fathoms unimagined and crafting an unnerving sense of deepening twilight.

'Empires of Mediocrity' is all twisted, horror-infused theatrics, with shuddering, melodramatic pauses and thudding deliberate chords as ominous as a stake being hammered through a vampire heart. 'The Necessary Evil' summons reserves of toughened riffage to further pound the senses, while 'Non Canimus Surdis' finishes the album in an arresting cyclone of buffeting drum-work and breathless snarling vocals, performed with a tenacity and verve fuelled by sheer adrenalin.

Brimming with a refreshing, fiery vigour and primed to inject an electrifying jolt of monstrous new life back into the genre, 'Empires of Mediocrity' is the clarion cry of a band poised at the brink of the sublime.

'Empires of Mediocracy' is out now on Non Serviam

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