“Darkened” is mostly a collection of previously-recorded songs taken from CONFUSION GODS’ self-released demo material…and it shows. The production and recording of the album seems obscenely clumsy and haphazard, the prominence of various instruments changes from song to song, with the drums usually dominating the album’s sound. Unfortunately, the drumming is of the simplest type found in extreme Metal, using the most ordinary and uninspiring percussive practices. The awkward blastbeats, the over-use of snare hits, and cymbals that sound like trash can lids all make an appearance.
What CONFUSION GODS need to be given credit for is the sonic variety found on “Darkened”. The band changes speed from slow and brooding to fast and intense quite frequently, even within the same song. These changes in tempo and focus usually feel natural and not out of place, reducing the monotony that can come from certain underground Metal releases. The song “Confusion Gods,” for example, opens with a nice, atmosphere acoustic section, gives way to the band’s bass guitar-powered Metal thump, slows down towards the middle, then picks up speed as the song climaxes. Vocalist Pier’s Black Metal rasps, while not articulate, are skillful and compelling as he creates sounds that would be right at home in a Norwegian forest. He can also transfer to a Death growl which, while adding further diversity to the album, also sounds unfortunately muddled and amateurish.
Nothing on “Darkened” is technical or adventurous in any way, a characteristic that can become grating, even with the album's running time barely exceeding the 26 minute mark. The opening of “Exhumed Brutality” is so simplistic that it might as well be played by a middle school marching band, only to be followed by a clumsy and unconvincing Death Metal section. On occasion, CONFUSION GODS is able to craft somewhat entertaining songs and one would hope that with better production and increased maturity in its writing the band will create more convincing material in the future.
(Online August 14, 2007)