Darkenhold – Castellum

darkenholdThe term “Castle Metal” is a relatively new one to me. The first time I ever heard it was from Tanner Anderson who half in jest described Obsequiae as being a Castle Metal band. We laughed. But it stuck. The thing is, opening up a clever new sub-genre for the sake of sticking bands that fit such a title into it’s descriptive dungeon is good for floundering “writers” like myself who are always eager to add something colorful to their metal vocabulary. Yes I know… needing to describe something with a tidy tag is lame and often cheapens the art so painfully toiled over by the musicians creating it, but for the sake of making my life easier, fuck it. Enter the French Quintet, Darkenhold. With a brooding castle adorning the cover of the very enjoyable Castellum, I feel very confident in dropping the Castle Metal bomb right here like a 13′ tall iron gate.

Having never heard this band before, the opening minutes of Castellum instantly enchanted me due to Darkenhold’s truly great overall atmosphere that harkens back to the early and exciting years of black metal. The band possesses the spirit of the genre perfectly and fill the 10 tracks on this album with endlessly memorable “medieval” scales that unfurl hooks that you simply cannot get away from. Add colorful synth work to accentuate these melodically charged riffs and you are indeed ushered away from this plane of existence back to the romantic dark ages where sword met shield and honor burned in the hearts of men… well those men who didn’t happen to die from the plague that is. There is that moment where I realized that in some way, Darkenhold had united the viking metal spirit of Bathory with For All Tid era Dimmu Borgir as the opening Bathory tribute riffs on “Glorious Horns” nodded to their influences with majesty and conviction. And that is fine with me! The lions share of Castellum is mid-paced which allows all the songs to develop and lope along within vibrant layers of melody. You can hear the bass lines perfectly and the synths add so much feeling to these songs. The vocalist maintains that higher register screaming style which suits this material perfectly and further points to the 90’s as main their era of influence.

Darkenhold nailed a style of black metal that I still hold dear and upon spinning this opus, one cannot deny Castellum multiple spins. The songwriting rings out as so mature and patient. These tracks really develop nicely and slowly, to eventually soar within a metallic majesty that has become their own style. Castellum are great. No joke. Castle fucking metal yourself into oblivion with this truly epic treat. -Marty
Those Opposed Records

~ by martyworm on March 25, 2015.

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