DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED
Angel of Carnage Unleashed
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Ah, there’s nothing like a little nostalgia to start the day. Yours truly is still getting used to the fact that the 90s black metal explosion is 30 years odd removed at this point, with bands like Darkwoods My Betrothed coming across as certified relics, buried by time and dust.
This isn’t to say that Angel of Carnage Unleashed doesn’t arrive welcomed to these ears, however, as it’s honestly nice to hear this old school black metal sound being made available to fans that were probably very young when all the mayhem (pun intended) was going down over in Norway, Sweden, and beyond. The case of Darkwoods My Betrothed from Finland is a bit different, however, since it served as the foundation for future Nightwish mastermind Tuomas Holopainen to get his feet wet in the extreme metal scene.
After first jettisoning the questionable moniker of Virgin’s Cunt, the future members of Darkwoods My Betrothed linked up with Holopainen to release two relatively obscure, but certainly enjoyable slices of medieval focused and keyboard heavy symphonic black metal records. This comeback release is still very much in that vein, a retro throwback that benefits greatly from modern production, yet is determined to keep that old school spirit alive. There’s practically nothing that gives away Holopainen’s Nightwish connection, other than the excellent keyboard playing and the occasional clean vocal balladry, and even these latter moments are few and far between.
Instead, Angel of Carnage Unleashed keeps things heavy and grim for the lion’s share of its running time. A song like “In Evil, Sickness and in Grief” possesses layers of powerful riffage atop a heavy rhythm section, while frontman Emperor Nattasett varies his approach from Attila-esque histrionics to traditional, low toned growls and screams. There’s also that aforementioned clean tone, but at no point does this seem forced within the songwriting, instead serving the album’s sense of dark melody and atmosphere. It almost lends a track like “Murktide and Midnight Sun” a Bathory vibe, which is most welcomed.
It’s also good to see Tuomas embracing his inner black metal past, since his involvement with both Darkwoods My Betrothed as well as the band Nattvindens Gratt showcased the man’s diverse tastes and skills when it came to embracing both ends of the indie metal spectrum. They say we all tend to look back as we age, yearn a bit for the past, yet armed with the knowledge that it can never truly be reclaimed. This isn’t always the case when it comes to music, though, thankfully, as Angel of Carnage Unleashed definitely proves that, at least in the case of Darkwoods My Betrothed, you really can go home again. ~ George Pacheco