Desolate Shrine [Finland]
The Heart of the Netherworld
Dark Descent Records
Finland’s Desolate Shrine was one of those bands that grabbed my attention back in 2012 when they released their sophomore full length album, The Sanctum of Human Darkness, showing what utter chaos and darkness that a trio could create, along with the unique lineup of a single instrumentalist and two vocalists. It’s been more than 2 years since The Sanctum of Human Darkness, and the trio returns early this year with their third opus, The Heart of the Netherworld.
Taking the darkness that they have created with Tenebrous Towers and The Sanctum of Human Darkness, Desolate Shrine proves that they are able to create sounds that are even more disturbing and haunting than their prior works. While the introductory track helped to create a destructive effect, as soon as Black Fires of God begins, one is treated to a more controlled attempt at disorder, which is one thing that has always enchanted me about Desolate Shrine.
One is quickly reminded of their compatriots such as Desecresy, and the more recent bands such as Corpsessed and Vorum on much of the album, with the sharp, abrasive guitar tone of LL. Instrumentalist LL proves his abilities once more on The Heart of the Netherworld, executing each of the instruments with ease. The drumming is crushing and relentless, while the guitars add the dual effect of creating utter chaos with a lone guitar at the background providing the chills. For instance, the haunting lead guitars towards the end of Black Fires of God sounds like an apocalyptic version of Opeth. The band also doesn’t shy away from using instruments such as the piano on Leviathan to upkeep that atmosphere on the album, ensuring that the listening experience remains as uneasy as possible for the listener.
The Heart of the Netherworld is a nice follow up from The Sanctum of Human Darkness, as the band displays their progression as songwriters on the album. As the album progresses, one realises that instead of the blast-fest that was on The Sanctum of Human Darkness, The Heart of the Netherworld is overall a slightly slower release, with the band making strategic uses of the contrast between walls of noise and silence, leaving listeners at the edge of their seats. Moments such as these, especially on longer tracks We Dawn Anew and Heart of the Netherworld bring to mind the works of bands like Ulcerate, attempting to drive the listener to madness – the former even being one of the most epic tracks that I have heard from Desolate Shrine thus far. On tracks such as these as well, the contrast between the vocals of RS and ML come into play nicely, each fitting into the different moment with their different vocal range.
Bands often proclaim their upcoming releases to be “the best work” that they have ever done, but few live up to their promises. With the growth displayed by Desolate Shrine, The Heart of the Netherworld is definitely the best work that the band has put out so far in their career.
Favourite picks: Desolate Shrine, We Dawn Anew
2. Black Fires of God
3. Desolate Shrine
5. We Dawn Anew
7. Heart of the Netherworld