Do you worship at the black altar of DISSECTION? Do you love the cold embrace of “Storm Of The Light’s Bane”? If so then I seriously urge you to check out this nifty little EP by DARK AGES. Yes, it might sound like quite a sweeping statement to compare this obscure little band with one of extreme Metal’s most celebrated (not to mention controversial) acts, but trust me – these Belgians pick up right where Jon (RIP) should have following his release from prison a few years back. Believe it.
That eerie yet darkly beautiful melodic aura that permeated DISSECTION’s early material courses strongly through the veins of these five songs - so much so that you could imagine this being a collection of unreleased DISSECTION demo tracks. It thus goes without saying that “Choirs Of Damnation” will also appeal to fans of similar bands like NAGLFAR and WATAIN. No, it’s not very original but these guys do a really wonderful job of paying homage to the aforementioned bands. Speaking of which, Yannick was also invited to audition for DISSECTION when Jon was busy putting together his post-incarceration line-up, so it’s little surprise that all these songs have a very pronounced Swedish Black/Death vibe to them. Instrumental opener “Upheaval” reminds me so much of DISSECTION that it’s not even funny. Things kick into faster, heavier and overall more blistering gear with “Under The Banner Of Death”, where the Death Metal elements come more to the fore, with a nice little solo capping it all off. “Storms In Heaven” is a little less impressive and just seems to plod along for nigh on seven minutes. Luckily things get right back on track with the title track which starts off with melodic yet raw guitar melodies that again bring back the “Storm” comparisons, and even though the track itself is almost nine minutes long it has a really good flow to it and a very effective slower paced lead section near the end. Those little guitar licks kick ass man! Another instrumental (that is basically very similar to the opening one) rounds out this 25 minute EP in style.
These guys wear their influences on their collective sleeve with pride and in “Choirs Of Damnation” they have delivered a very impressive set of Swedish Death/Black songs that have a dark yet classy feel to them, easily marking these guys as one of the more credible pretenders to the throne. The drumming might be a little sloppy in places and the bass is largely absent but these are minor gripes once the somber melodies and serrated-edged vocals take control of you.
They seem to have put a lot of effort into this EP and they play these songs with a sense of purpose, so DARK AGES is definitely a band to keep an eye out for.
(Online December 14, 2007)