Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 9/27/2005
Darker Designs & Images
posted on 11/2005 By:
Darker Designs & Images is Siebenburgen’s fifth release of vampire inspired black metal. Will this be the album that propels Siebenburgen from their relative obscurity on Napalm Record’s roster? No. Like the melodic black metal band Catamenia this is a band that despite their experience and extended effort, will remain on the B-grade or lower side of black metal until they actually take a step up in the writing department.
At least Siebenburgen finally ended up getting decent artwork for the cover of the album, but what’s important here is the sound: Classic metal tinged, slightly upbeat, vampiric, gothic black metal. Yes, I know that was a long string of adjectives but they’re needed to convey the sound of this band. Though I was a casual listener of Siebenburgen’s earlier releases I was disappointed to find that Darker Designs & Images is just plain boring and monotonous, even compared to previous releases like Loreia and Grimjaur. They still have a unique sound compared to most other bands that play their style of metal, the same classic metal elements Siebenburgen added on Plague Angel, but nothing really sticks out to me on this release. Yes, it has the semi-grandiose female vocals, but they don’t really add anything to the music; female vocals here almost seem like a begrudged necessity. There are dual harmonies and harmonic lead lines in the guitar scattered around, but they just come off as uninspired. The musicianship isn’t in doubt here as the guitars have taken a step up in skill since earlier releases, but there’s a certain flair missing here. Darker Designs seems less powerful than their other releases. There’s almost no distinction from song to song and the whole album runs together over its thirteen tracks. There’s nothing I can grab onto to convince me that this is an excellent release. All the songs are midtempo melodic black metal that mainly follow predictable formats that are easily recognizable and more easily tired. It's all fairly catchy riffs with a strong reliance on the melody to hook the listener, but there’s a certain fierceness inherent in most black metal that’s missing here. However “Of Blood and Magic” is a welcome exception to this rule. The intensity is kept high in this song, with a good degree of variation and contrast, but one track can’t save a whole album.
To be fair, there’s nothing Siebenburgen really does wrong on this release, but neither do they manage to do anything interesting or innovative. The production works well for the music and all the parts are balanced nicely. The overall sound of the album is tight and focused, but they really reinvent the wheel here…It’s what I’ve come to expect from Siebenburgen, progress in musical ability and slight progressions in style, but a fundamental focus on the same concepts that they’ve always had. I can’t really bring myself to recommend this album to anyone but a diehard Siebenburgen fan or people who just can’t get enough of the gothic black metal Napalm Records is so famous for.
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