Darkest Grove [USA]
Coming of 2012
Forever Plagued Records
Tired of all the usual Satanic and anti-religious themes of black metal, USBM band Darkest Grove (whose mastermind Devoid Being also owns Forever Plagued Records) presents their art with a more sophisticated theme, with Coming of 2012 seeing the band continuing their exploration of philosophical themes, and one would easily suspect so already from the album art and its cosmic concept.
Yet this is not really discernible from the start, as what hits the listener on opening track Hatred Strives… is almost standard black metal fare, with the riffs being rather reminiscent of Finnish black metal bands such as Horna and classics such as Mayhem‘s earlier stuff, especially with the cold atmosphere that is brought about with the riffing styles of Devoid Being. While Devoid Being’s vocal styles does not particularly stick to the usual shrieking styles, his tortured shouts at times give the music on Coming of 2012 a nice thrashy edge, backed by the energetic drumming and the at times rather thrashy riffs on the album. However, he does display some versatility with growls littered here and there, and performances on songs like Wallowing at the Face of Evil are just downright creepy and haunting, with the ear-piercing shrieks that come out of nowhere scaring the shit out of the listener, reinforcing the high tension that is in the air.
As the album progresses though, the amount of profound thought that has been put into the music of Darkest Grove starts to show with the numerous musical elements from a wide range of genres that the Devoid Being has put into the writing of the music, ranging from the pure gritty early Norwegian black metal to ambient, resulting in a rather dynamic listen. For instance, the lead guitars on songs like Destiny even brings in a slight doom metal sound, blackened by the cold and harsh backdrop. Usage of clean guitars for instance are aplenty, often used to highlight the negativity in the music, like the ominous chords on the intro of the instrumental Visions of an Apocalypse, and even the lead guitar on the track (and on the album for that matter) is ever so slightly out of tune, making things even more uneasy. The highlight on the album is the epic, 26-minute Return of the Moon Children, where the focus on the ambient aspect of the music becomes even more obvious, with the spoken vocals, the sounds of nature, the heavy usage of keys here and the huge atmosphere on the track.
The progression of the album also displays the musical ingenuity of Devoid Being, with the arrangements of the tracks resulting in an album that flows rather nicely. For instance, Hatred Strives… starts the album off with a rather aggressive edge, but the entire album discovers the whole negative aspects of human emotions as well, and songs like Destiny having a rather depressive black metal edge in it. Furthermore, most of the tracks on the album transit seamlessly to the next, resulting in Coming of 2012 feeling like a long, single track journey.