Diabolical - Eclipse - (9/10)
Published on February 24, 2019
Sweden has provided many great bands over the years, some that became the most well-known death metal acts and plenty that were simply lost in the crowd. There is a chance that Diabolical might have reached your ears but despite their consistent activity and longevity as a band, they never really made the headlines. I only recently found out that these guys existed, but their latest effort is bound to create some serious competition for many huge death metal acts out there. ‘Eclipse’ is the fifth full length in a convincing discography from a band that’s been around for two decades and finds them at their strongest point so far.
The blasting opener “We Are Diabolical” kicks off the record with all of the different aspects that define the sound of “Diabolical”, from raw power and aggression to beautiful dark melodies and an effortless blend of the two. They show a wide array of styles that ranges everywhere from Emperor to Septicflesh and to Insomnium. Mainly a blackened death metal album, ‘Eclipse’ is raw and cold but finds the band shifting styles numerous times within a single song throwing a lot of powerful dark anthems in the choruses as well as melodies and even some slower riffs that verge on doom. This is a band that reigns supreme in all the dark dimensions of heavy metal. The songs aren’t very complex from a structural standpoint but they are bloody expressive, technical and heavy, thus offering an accessible yet highly skillful set of ideas. I love the beastly drumming that borders on tech-death with the relentless triggered double pedals, creating the alert adrenaline feel of the album. The crunchy death metal guitar riffs further enforce the power that the music sends to the listener and the solos and melodies shift the direction towards more of a melodic death approach. On the black metal side of things the guitar work also shows good use of tremolo picking sections.
Where this album really earns a lot of points is in the vocal department and symphonic elements. Sure it sounds heavy and powerful but it’s the presence of both harsh and clean vocals, choirs and piano and synth parts where ‘Eclipse’ gets its evil aura. The vocal variety on this record is through the roof, from the death metal roars to the clean singing that most often shows up in the choruses alongside the choir, creating that feeling of a storm descending upon you. Add the almost orchestral aspect to the picture and you’ve got a complete ominous soundscape that becomes a living entity with a nasty multiple personality grinning back at you. And what I love most is that the production makes it work. It’s not overcrowded and you don’t get anything lost in the background. The sound engineering is made to bring forward clarity and depth in sound but doesn’t lose the raw black metal vibe while doing so and I find that very few bands are able to do this right.
‘Eclipse’ is a rich complex and complete album that includes everything on the agenda if you like truly dark music, putting some of the old classic bands’ most recent work to shame. It also sticks to a modest 42 minutes in length staying balanced and not becoming a tedious listen. If this is your genre, you shouldn’t hesitate another second about giving the full album a spin, and if you’d like to see Diabolical take their dark dimensions on European stages check them out on tour in March and April opening for Septicflesh.