Blaze of Perdition - Conscious Darkness 01In The Decline of the West, historian and polymath Oswald Spengler embarked on a sweeping tour of history, providing some disputable facts alongside a myriad of valuable insights. One such insight, inspired by his two influences Nietzsche and Goethe, was the tying of art to a culture’s metaphysics, and how attempts to escape it never truly succeed. His favorite example of this was the Renaissance, which tried to emulate the Classical despite being tied inextricably to the “Faustian” culture of the West. Blaze of Perdition is a Polish band, and Poland is a largely Catholic country. Conscious Darkness, their follow-up to the solid Near Death Revelations, is a black metal record, which in the vast majority of cases entails irreligious or fervently anti-religious content. The more I listen, though, the more I feel Spengler’s insights apply.

The general ethos of Blaze of Perdition has remained largely unchanged since Near Death Revelations. The Greek influence of Acherontas and Devathorn, along with the Swedish influence of Naglfar and Dissection, combine with that peculiarly Polish sound that animates bands such as Behemoth as well. This is black metal fused with death metal, but not blackened death; the Polish, along with the Germans, are particularly good at this (for the latter, see Ascension and Thornesbreed). The Norwegian trebly tremolo is replaced with death metal’s heft, the more straightforward melodies of Dissection are rendered more melancholy, and the Greek riffing style, with more chugging and churning than the Norwegian second wave, is made morose.

The latent Catholicism comes through in the exhausted Faustian nature of “Ashes Remain,” striving towards the infinite, but instead of finding God, finding nothing. The whole track is brilliantly and unapologetically bleak, climaxing in an extended version of its cathartic yet still hopeless chorus. The rest of the track revolves around the chorus’ motif, transitioning from the enraged howling of its “verses” and the more contemplative despair of the almost proggy midsection. “Detachment Brings Serenity” is the highlight of the four songs here, taking minor influence from the post-black scene to paint a picture of a sickly sort of serenity. It’s a serenity underwritten by resignation, and the less melancholy moments are quickly swallowed by aggressively bleak riffing. Nonetheless, one recalls Faust’s initial wish that led him to his deal with Mephistopheles: nothing in his studies made him happy, so he wanted the Devil’s magic powers. This song climaxes with the narrator being a catalyst of darkness – “I shall embrace the sun today, and steal the light away” – and proceeds down a haunting yet beautiful melodic path before concluding on some almost liturgical clean vocals (note the latent Catholicism again), concluding with him finding “peace of mind” in the darkness. Instead of paradise, we’re right back where we started: the dark.

Blaze of Perdition - Conscious Darkness 02There’s not much wrong with Conscious Darkness, although “Weight of the Shadow” errs a bit too close to the Watain and Ascension mold for its own good and comes across a bit wanting in comparison to the other tracks here. The eerie dissonance of its chorus is quite good though and makes for a rather distinct sound. It’s a fine black metal song, don’t get me wrong, but Blaze of Perdition have simply done far more interesting things on this very record. “A Glimpse of God” fares better, with a bizarrely catchy chorus melody being notable. While it doesn’t use its time quite as effectively as the two songs mentioned in the previous paragraph, the finale is striking and showcases some great interplay between all instruments, with a special nod to the drums. It too has that exhausted Faustian atmosphere, and that works very much in its favor.

Blaze of Perdition has released an ambitious record in Conscious Darkness, and their efforts have paid off and benefited us, the people who like to listen to black metal. It’s produced comparably to Near Death Revelations, which means that everything is clear, but the kick drum is a touch weak. This is a minor complaint, as it doesn’t detract from the music whatsoever and the production allows the full extent of instrumental interplay to be heard, while not sounding pristine or plastic. This is clearly meant to be taken as a full record, and to listen to just one song is to do it and yourself a disservice; “A Glimpse of God” opens the record with a sample declaring that God is to be found only in suffering, and through suffering, represented by melancholic music, musically our narrator finds not God but a darkness that he ultimately embraces. Compelling and almost tragic, the flat rejection of Catholicism shows the Polish nature of the band; the Faustian striving is there, but the object of that striving is removed. What are we left with, but the dark?

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia Records
Releases Worldwide: November 3rd, 2017

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  • Goldicot

    Hell of a review. I’m a sucker for the criticism that treats music as art rather than assembly line entertainment. This is a great bit of insight on that level.

    I should change my avatar. It doesn’t go well with these comments.

    • basenjibrian

      There is a….horror…in your avatar that fits someone commenting on a metal website! I like it!

      • sir_c

        it has a bit of that Annoying Orange smugness

  • hallowed

    No complaints about this one, it’s pretty good. Then again, I am more inclined to the Egon Spengler school of thought.

    • Name’s Dalton

      “I collect spores, molds, and fungus.”

  • basenjibrian

    A big fan of this band, I would probably rate it 4.0 myself.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It was pretty close, but just short for me.

  • Bas

    Calling a black metal band latent catholics .. Auch!
    Sprengler is really a hype here (netherla nds). Is that the same in other countries ?

    PS . i will listen to the music tomorrow. The review got me intrigued. Always a pleasure to read your reviews Diabolus!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thank you! And yes, but in the sense of Joyce’s “Ulysses”: people reference it enough in conversation but don’t actually read it.

  • Eli Valcik

    Been waiting on this one for awhile. Completely agree with the review.

  • This is a new band to me, love the embedded track.

  • Absolomb

    One of the best reviews I’ve read on here in a while. I’ve been listening to Batushka tonight and it seems these guys will go perfectly after their record.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thank you for that, high praise considering the caliber of writers we have here!
      Batushka and this definitely work together, but this is a lot more subtle IMO.

  • sjforr

    [WTF is the difference between black/death and blackened death? The never ending atomisation of metal sub-genres is impossible to keep up with.]
    That aside, thanks for the review. This type of metal (black/death or death/black or blackened death or deathened black or whatever is the correct taxonomy) is right up my alley.

  • Nukenado

    The review sold me, but the DR4 made me back down a bit…
    The embed is tasty though.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    I can see from the last 3 reviews that LARPing is a big craze in the metal world these days.

    • Nukenado

      Black metal is just power metal in color negative.

  • Septic

    Great review sir! “A Glimpse of God”…what a fucking amazing way to open the album.

  • Iain Gleasure

    The 4 songs. It was here that I knew this album was not for me.

  • Moth

    Came for the review and was so entranced I stayed for the music. Glad I did.

  • herrschobel

    very good ! you made me buy the album and finally buy a copy of ‘The Decline of the West’ … winter is about to start here in Berlin and usually i get all my reading done in these 6 months in my little cosily lit cave. Cheers ! i recently stumbled across Julius Evola who someone mentioned while talking about Spengler…Evola is more of a right winger (with whom i don´t agree ideologically) but i find some of his ideas about the decay of western culture quite intriguing and true ….

  • Thatguy

    Late to this, but thanks, Diabolus. You review really is a tour-de-force (suck on that Brutalist Receptacle) and I may have missed these guys otherwise, which would have been a shame.

  • Lithophyte


  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    damn, they re on tour with Ulcerate (headlining) and they re coming to my city :3 it seems I will have a blast :D this sounds pretty good

  • sir_c

    Pity I never listened to their music, cos these guys have been around for some years. The embedded track is fucking killer. I have some work to do on their back catalog.

  • AgonMcDuck

    I’m enjoying this album WAY more than I expected. I was expecting a casual enjoyable time but nothing great; I’ve ended up returning to this several times since this review was written. I definitely have to set aside forty minutes for this but it’s totally worth it.

  • GWW

    That was a good read! Good record.