Band: Den Sorte Død
Release date: 11 October 2019
Format reviewed: High Quality Digital Version
“Have you fed yourself to fire, have you wallowed in the pain?”
In this dark time of the year, I find myself in the mood for dark and atmospheric music more and more. While genres like Black Metal provide for that plenty, sometimes I need something different… The genres of Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth, both closely related, are very compelling in that regard, they are also dark, gloomy and atmospheric, yet the convey these themes in a very different way! On a recent search for new and bleak music, I found myself on the YouTube channel “The Dungeon Synth Archives” and there, a certain cover-artwork, as so many times before, caught my eye. It depicted a forest fire in black & white and instantly unsettled me, something about it made me feel uneasy. As it later turned out, checking out this release was a very good idea, that album of course being DEN SORTE DØD’s new full-length “Undergangen”!
DEN SORTE DØD, translated to “The Black Death”, is a collaborative effort of two solo projects, OFFERMOSE and ANGST SESSIONS, both having put out multiple releases, all offering dark electronic music. This collective entity also already released two albums, in 2016 and ’18 respectively. Now they united once more in their studio, somewhere deep inside a Swedish forest, to once more conjure the Black Death and unveil “Undergangen” (“Downfall”), an apocalyptic, oppressive and dark album.
The opening title track already starts off the record strong! Typical for the “Berlin School” of electronic music, with which DEN SORTE DØD identify, “Undergangen” builds off repeating sound structures, a lingering mixture of higher and lower synth drones and key notes, which are constantly modified and enhanced to progress the track. The dark sound carries a sense of urgency, overall creating some eerie and at points psychedelic soundscapes, further enriched with punchy synthesized percussion used sparingly and to great effect. The band combine the strongest elements of Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth, fused together with a Wave twist, reminding me of a darkened 80’s movie soundtrack, sinister and depressing in sound.
“Moseangst” features repeating synth loops with changing elements further up in the mix. The track creates a thick, oppressive atmosphere. “Tågens Gåder” seems less dark and more at peace so to speak. What sounds like a synthesized flute creates a generally more mystical, almost fantasy like imagery and ambience. “Dyster Kold Mörker” („Gloomy Cold Darkness”) offers a glacier-like cold keyboard above a deep drone, later also introducing a pulse like, punchy electronic “heartbeat”. The track is a journey, one may feel like you yourself are traversing the title-giving, eternally cold darkness… In the end, only the eerie pulse remains before it too finally fades away into nothingness.
“Syndernas Forfall” (“The Decay of Sins”) has a hymn-like quality at the start, which soon turns dark, like an apocalyptic prophecy of decay. Musically revealing new elements throughout, the track carries a sense of revelation, as if you were confronted with some big truth, unable to comprehend fully what has fallen upon you. The progression of the track makes it a mysterious and otherworldly experience, a premonition of what to come: “Dödsdans I Skogsbrand” (“Death-dance in the forest fire”) is gloomy and depressing, the most oppressive and anxiety-inducing the album got so far. The track gets really uneasy and uncomfortable at the end, the “Downfall” is complete, it’s as if embracing the cold arms of death, yet, it is not the end… Awoken by relentless, synthesized percussion, “Gråkall Morgon” (“Grey Cold Morning”) may be a new beginning, but it is not a good one. The sound gets even more oppressive and claustrophobic than before. The climax of the album offers the most mournful and sad sound of the entire album… There is no light, only sadness. This is a final embrace of the cold void, you have turned hollow at last, everything is futile.
DEN SORTE DØD has created a truly dark journey, “Undergangen” is definitely a fitting title for the album. For fans of Dark Ambient and Electronics, this is mandatory listening, offering a bit of CARPENTER, a bit of TANGERINE DREAM, and a whole lot of obscure darkness. If you’re into this type of music, you might want to grab a vinyl copy of this while they’re still available, I secured mine already. This album is slowly turning into one my favourite Dark Ambient releases of the year, bringing in some very compelling elements from darker electronic music, strongly reminiscent of Berlin School classics and leading to a cohesive, distressful and melancholic experience. 9/10 the trve Medvson
9/10 Epic Storm
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