As a newcomer to Swedenís DARKANE, I had no idea what "Demonic Art", their fifth LP would offer musically. Iíve heard many mixed opinions regarding their past efforts, all from reputable sources. DARKANE have been hailed as one of the stronger Swedish Death Metal acts of the past decade, but they have also been criticized for being somewhat stagnant and mundane. As someone who is completely unfamiliar with this albumís numerous predecessors, I can say, without any amount of bias, that "Demonic Art" falls mostly into the latter category.
After an excellent introduction in "Variations Of An Eye Crush (Instrumental)", which sounds closer to something that a band like TURISAS would record, DARKANE launches the album on a very positive note. "Leaving Existence" is a punishing Thrash Metal assault; the guitar riffs themselves arenít exactly momentous or altogether memorable, but the sheer speed at which they are delivered more than makes up for that. Save a melodic break towards the songís end, "Leaving Existence" is a relentless modern Thrash affairĖcomparable to the likes of modern day EXODUS. "Execution 44" has a fantastic introduction, a blistering and emotive guitar solo backed by a pseudo-symphony of sorts. The riffs featured here are some of the better riffs on the album, catering to the Thrash maniac in me while at the same time retaining a subtle sense of atmosphere that is almost lost amidst the chaos. Things do descend into monotony even during this, one of the better songs on the album. The band seems to have hit a creative wall, opting to lead most of their ideas into groove/metalcore-ish territory.
Alas, the lack of exiting riffs does catch up to the band rather quickly. Positive moments mostly occur in the form of either melodic guitar solos or frantic drum performances. The former occupies about 5% of the album whereas the latter isnít enough to make up for the monotony brought on by the guitar. The drummer does make up a good deal of the excitementĖbe it his occasional blasting, unexpected and creative fills or his pitch-perfect sound quality, there isnít a lot to complain about when it comes to his performance. As for melodic guitar solos, they are often a songís only redeeming quality. Take the mostly horrible "Demigod" for example; the guitar solo, which serves as a bridge between listless guitar chugs, uplifted my senses, dragged me out of the drek before hurling me right back into it.
"Demonic Art" isnít an unsalvageable album; songs including "Soul Survivor", "Impetious Constant Chaos", "Still In Progress" and "Leaving Existence" are all held together by excellent guitar work. This albumís biggest problem, is that it isnít consistent with its good ideas. In order to have access to every ingenious moment on this album, the listener would have to endure quite a bit of underwhelming, filler moments. This is probably one of those albums that I would usually give the "only for completists" stamp, but I have nothing to compare this to. All I can say, is that there are plenty of superior albums out there that deserve your attention more than this one does. Whether or not any of those albums belong to DARKANEís discography is currently unknown to me.
(Online November 9, 2008)