The Pitch: Epic symphonic black metal (with a real deal string orchestra and choir) from Sweden's Zornheym and the support of Non Serviam Records. Featuring former and current members of Devian, Dark Funeral, Diabolical, and Facebreaker. FFO: Dimmu Borgir, Carach Angren, Cradle of Filth
What I Like: As much as I dig a talented synth player, there is simply no replacing a live orchestral performance. If we reflect on the best albums from Septicflesh and Dimmu Borgir, by a large margin most will vote for their early forays into choirs and enlistment of philharmonic. And while Where Hatred Dwells And Darkness Reigns isn't quite Death Cult Armageddon, the extra mile shows. Aided by solid production from Sverker Widgren of Wing Studios (Demonical, Diabolical), Zornheym have a sound that is lush and layered from the melodic black metal guitar hooks and solos to the classical atmosphere. Furthermore, there is ample attention paid to dynamics. This is most obvious with the well-placed interludes, but also creates some awesome set pieces like the headbob-inducing string and bass drum break towards the end of "Whom The Nights Brings..." and Middle Eastern-sounding influences on "Hestia."
Critiques: I feel as though there is just a little je ne sais quoi that is missing here. I can't put my finger on it, but despite the strong compositions and performances this doesn't quite provoke my fist to the sky like some of the classics in the genre. Maybe I've just listened to too many similar albums over the years.
The Verdict: Zornheym is a very talented band with a bright future given the right marketing. Their skill certainly rivals current outings from their similar peers, even if they haven't quite reached the peak of thei capabilities just yet. Thanks to their commitment to black metal ethos along with the inclusion of real classical elements, this is an album you certainly should not miss. Out Friday.
Flight's Fav's: The Opposed, A Silent God, Whom The Night Brings...
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