Review of Darkened - "Kingdom of Decay"

International acts are nothing new to the music industry. However, during the 20th century, collaborations between geographically separated musicians were especially time-consuming, difficult, potentially expensive, and therefore rare, propositions (who remembers those exorbitant international phone rates?!).

Nevertheless, by the early 2000’s, the internet’s global proliferation had drastically cut down the time and costs required for musicians to interface across countries and oceans; and as this new, digitally augmented millennium has progressed (and the collaborative processes made easier by the day), we’ve seen a natural uptick in the number of acts who's members hail from separate countries and continents.

Most recently, bands such as Iku-Turso, Tribe of Pazuzu, The Malice, Angelblast, and The Rite have begun to make good names for themselves despite being internationally based – and kudos to them – but today we’ve gathered to discuss the Swedish/British/Canadian collective known as Darkened and their impending LP, Kingdom of Decay (due out September 11th from Edged Circle Productions).

Featuring a wealth of experience distributed throughout its members, Darkened was forged in 2018 from fragments of the aforementioned Angelblast (vocalist Gord Olson and guitarist Hempa Brynolfsson), A Canorous Quintet (guitarist Linus Nirbrant), and one of Bolt Thrower’s founding members (drummer Andrew Whale). Toss in the 2020 addition of bassist Tobias Cristiansson (also of Grave/Entombed A.D., who notably replaced Daryl Kahan, better known for his vocals in Funebrarum), and you’ve got yourself one hell of a star-studded lineup that is capable of composing some of the sickest, classically-inspired death metal being written today.

Releasing only a year or so since their initially eye-opening EP (Into the Blackness, Chaos Records, August 15th, 2019), Darkened’s Kingdom of Decay is eleven tracks of ass-kicking, old-school death metal served up piping hot and produced for the 21st century. Based largely in the robust and rowdy rhythms laid down by Whale and Cristiansson, the riffs provided by Brynolfsson and Nirbrant melodically mesh into crushing, head-nodding perfection, and vocalist Olson’s performance is par excellence (which, for this act, seems “par for the course”).

Once Kingdom of Decay officially hits the streets, be sure not to skip some of the most ripping cuts such as “1000 Years” (included in the Bandcamp link below), “Pandemonium”, “Of Unsound Mind”, or “The White Horse of Pestilence”, and if you’re looking for the slower grooves, don’t miss “Cage of Flesh” or “The Old Ones”. Overall, though, Darkened’s Kingdom of Decay is fantastic in its fullness, so be sure to get this entire album in your earholes ASAP!

Rating: 95 / 100 (A)

Release Date: September 11th, 2020 (Edged Circle Productions)

Genre: Classic Death Metal

For Fans of: Bolt Thrower, Grave, Memoriam, Jungle Rot, Entombed A.D., Angelblast, Soul Grinder, The Bleeding, Bear Mace

Darkened Links: Facebook, Instagram


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