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'The Heart Of The Netherworld'
(Dark Descent Records)

jools green

Jools Green

desolate shrine

Part of an ever growing wave of extreme Metal from Finland, the mysterious purveyors of chaos and wrath, Desolate Shrine, are predominantly the brainchild of 'LL' who covers all instruments, with vocals covered by 'RS' of Lie In Ruins/Perdition Winds and 'ML' from Lord Of Pagathorn/The Crescent.

The band's third album, consisting of seven of their darkest creations, encompassing sixty-three minutes and following their previous releases, 2011s 'Tenebrous Towers' and 'The Sanctum Of Human Darkness' in 2012 is a massive, old-school-tinged wall of sound created from a thick, harsh and oppressively muggy edge to the guitars but there is also an ambience that lies beneath that muggy fog of oppressiveness.

Overall is achieves a dark, hauntingly atmospheric feel that errs at times on the edge of suffocating and terrifying, completed by powerful vocals that are dark vitriolic, abrasive and intonated. This album certainly benefits from the twin vocalists whose voices are very complementary.

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I don't have one particular favourite amongst the tracks as they all tend to slip into a similar, previously mentioned formula, with many of the tracks starting with slow extended builds, sometimes making the second half of the tracks better than the first. It can also become a little bit too oppressive, particularly on the very long tracks which is my only minor criticism, but it also adds an atmospheric doom laden edge and there are some notable moments that pull your attention back into focus again.

On the four minute 'Intro' you get some great drum patterns breaking through and the underlying vocal screams in the second half that add extra dimension. There are superb vocals on 'Desolate Shrine', some of the best of the release for the sheer range, from a growl to a vitriolic hiss and the underlying subtle melody that rises and falls beneath the muggy overtones adds depth.

'We Dawn Anew' has stunning latter part drum work which intensifies the atmosphere, 'Leviathan' is very haunting sinister and desolate, much of which comes from the slower more deliberate drum work, awash with crescendos of crashing cymbals.

desolate shrine

All the tracks are pretty long; the shortest is the opening track at four and a half minutes while the rest range from six minutes duration, to 'We Dawn Anew' which clocks up almost fifteen minutes, pretty monstrous for a death Metal track, but the pace is slow and deliberate so this helps to justify the length.

On my third listen instead of viewing the album as individual tracks I considered it as one whole piece. They do flow well together and in many ways this made the album make more sense, it requires two or three listens to really get the feel of the album enabling you to appreciate it fully.

'The Heart Of The Netherworld' is available on CD and digital formats and although there were moments that I felt I was being crushed beneath the tracks, maybe that's the idea, but there were a lot of great elements to balance that feel.

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