posted on 4/2008 By:
I made a point in my Leviathan review awhile back about how the standards for production quality, musicianship, and songwriting skill seem to be on the rise for black metal in recent times. Disagree? Well, to hell with you then. But in the interest of sounding professional, I suppose I’ll go ahead and recommend enigmatic Russian outfit Storming Darkness to anyone who’s been doubting the relevance of traditional black metal in today’s metal landscape. In many ways, Sin-thesis is representative of the numerous strides forward that have been made in this style in the last few years.
For me, what really makes the first impression when listening to a new band is the sound quality. Right off the bat the harsh and clear production job of Sin-thesis scored kudos with yours truly. All the instruments make their presence confidently felt, and these guys aren’t afraid to *gasp* push the bass fader up in the mix to give their sound some heft. What a pity that more bands don’t follow this example; I’m not sure when or why it became “grim” to ignore bottom-end entirely in favor of guitars that sound like Will Smith dragging that table across the floor of the exam room in Men In Black, but Storming Darkness are bucking that trend, and I’m most definitely liking it. So far, so good.
The riff writing is another big plus. It seems like a lot of black metal bands I hear these days are so focused on adhering to all the “rules” of the genre that they forget to actually write compelling material. Once opener “V&R/ Supreme Murderer Moral” begins its obvious that these guys are serious about their craft. Think Darkthrone and Gorgoroth (cliche, I know) with perhaps a touch of older Grand Belial’s Key in the vocals and interesting melodies and you have an idea of what to expect from this outfit stylistically. The way the songs are structured is certainly nothing new or progressive (fast tremolo strumming and what not), but the quality of the material at hand is enough to make the songs very enjoyable regardless, and Storming Darkness are proof that you can put your riffs at the forefront and still maintain that “mysterious” atmosphere that‘s become such a defining element of the genre. Remember Transilvanian Hunger? And Nattens Madrigal? Those fuckers had riffs. Granted, the songs on Sin-thesis don’t come anywhere close to the genius of those albums, but the premise is the same and the sound is similar. There’s not too much depth in terms of how the songs are arranged--its pretty much cold riff after cold riff, with the odd ominous intro segment, but Storming Darkness pull it off because they are good songwriters. They're good musicians, too--you won’t hear a single moment of sloppiness during the entirety of Sin-thesis, but the instrumentation remains satisfyingly raw and organic sounding nevertheless. A fine line that many BM bands trip right over, one side or the other. Nice.
Bottom line--this is a legitimate band, and this is a professional black metal recording. Those who obsess over which one-man project can have the most laughably bad drumming and the ugliest production possible need not apply. But for those who actually value riffs and sound quality in their orthodox black metal, Storming Darkness got what it takes. With a little more flexibility and creativity in their arrangements, these guys could have a bright future ahead of them. Or...I guess "dark" would be more complementary in this case.
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