1658 North Milwaukee Avenue #245
Chicago, IL 60647
Website: Olympic Recordings
Apparently Blakkheim of Katatonia and some co-conspirators (e.g., Dan Swäno) have decided to up the ante on what is true theatrical, atmospheric, black metal. Obviously going for the fans of Nordic bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, and the like, Diabolical Masquerade seems to outclass them not in terms of “evilness”, but in terms of musicality. Death’s Design is a veritable fusion of multiple metallic and non-metallic styles which shine in their complexity, much like Spiral Architect or some other “math metal” band, and yet entertain for their sheer brutality. Mind you, you cannot simply pop this CD in the player while driving the way you would a Judas Priest album. Instead, you should have your feet planted firmly on the ground to prepare for the experience. It is brutal and it is calculating, but it is also unpredictable and diverse. So, if you are one of those people who only listen to one or two songs on a CD, this one is not for you. But if you like complex, brutal, well-conceived metal, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek this one out. And don’t expect to hear an album with traces of Katatonia on it. Diabolical Masquerade are worlds different from Blakkheim’s main band, making this a truly “solo” album.
The title may be Vengeance Ascending, but the music sounds like a mighty ass whooping coming down. Diabolic, while squarely fitting into the Florida style of brutal death metal, sound more like an American version of Krisiun. Non-stop blast beats form the bedrock of this band’s ultra-heavy music (drummer Aantar Coates is nicknamed “Blastmaster”. He is unreal), while the thick-as-oil guitar riffs crush your speakers. It is an all out aural attack that is stopped mercifully short at 41 minutes! There is really nothing here that merits the words like “creative,” “new,” or “different,” neither lyrically—rather uncreative, actually—nor musically. But it certainly is done well. And the production is excellent with each instrument clearly distinguishable. So if you dig brutal, fast, and merciless death metal, Diabolic is very much for you.
I’ve always thought that low-priced compilations are a great idea. This one gives you twenty tracks for only $3.98—and well over an hour’s worth at that! I really like that because there are a number of bands here I’ve wanted to hear for a long time. So for a minimum amount of investment, you too can check out these bands. Obviously, then, this disc contains cuts from several Olympic releases including songs from Gorguts, Behemoth, Internal Bleeding, Diabolic, Macabre, Jungle Rot, Withered Earth, Diabolical Masquerade, Divine Empire, Fleshgrind, Angelcorpse, Monstrosity, Solitude Aeturnus, and Oppressor. Most of these bands are brutal death metal bands, though Solitude Aeturnus is clearly doom metal. My guess is that there is going to be at least two or three bands on this album that you are going to really like. With such a small price the risk is small. It’s better than Napster! And if nothing else, at least you have a “museum piece”.
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