Remember the late 90’s and early 2000’s? Metal was slowly finding itself again from all that nü-ness to get things back to their heavier selves, and in that time frame brought with it some questionable band-naming conventions. The biggest of which, The Three-Word Sentence™, proliferated the underground like locusts. Verb the Noun, Verbing the Noun, Noun Will/Shall Verb, and of course, bands with ridiculously long names that would make Fiona Apple proud ruled the underground roost. What most of them had in common were claims of being death metal, yet not being anywhere near that league. So when I happened upon As Darkness Falls, the third album by German trio Deny The Urge, the hairs on my back stood up, my eyes squinted in curiosity, and I braced myself for the worse. Is this death metal, or is this “death metal”?
You can do away with the quotations, as this is full-on death metal with some serious kick. After a quick intro, the title track opens with a monster of a riff that sounds distinctly Floridian mixed with a little Vader action. Speaking of the Polish death gods, Deny The Urge scored their drummer, James Stewart, who blasts and grooves with murderous intent. His precision and speed match the riffs by guitarists Henrik Osterloh and Max Hunger, recalling times when the mere mention of Morbid Angel didn’t make me cry. At a tight three minutes, the song goes in, obliterates, and leaves destruction in its wake without overstaying its welcome. Like Colombia’s strongest and blackest coffee, this shit will wake you the fuck up in no time.
Thankfully, that intensity and horn-throwing goodness permeates the remainder of As Darkness Falls. “Altar of Addiction” blasts with the intensity of Deicide, and features a sweet lead by Osterloh. “On The Surface,” the album’s longest song at just a hair over seven minutes, doesn’t feel as such, thanks to some good tempo change-ups, a tight groove that would rival mid-era Hypocrisy, and Osterloh’s varied growling throughout the song. Elsewhere, “Voices” goes for the throat, only offering respite, once again, during the solos. It’s during those moments where Deny The Urge shine the brightest, like the sun’s about to go supernova on your sorry ass.
With that intensity comes caveats. Musically, As Darkness Falls aims to obliterate your eardrums with tight riffing and blasting speed. The Jost Schlüter production, however, obliterates your eardrums with compression and loudness. Hunger’s bass work takes a big hit, only popping up here and there. Also, a creeping sense of familiarity hovers over the album, as some tracks feel like they’re bleeding into each other (such as from the title track to the follow-up, “Loophole”). And although the album is a paltry 47 minutes, you could have gotten rid of two of the three instrumental interludes (“The Processing” kicks ass, though) and it could have strengthened the album’s second half considerably.
While researching the album, I discovered that Osterloh and Hunger put Deny The Urge in suspended animation in 2011 after a variety of line-up changes. I’m glad that they decided to give it another go, because As Darkness Falls flails and carves like a beast enraged. It may not be a new sound, but it’s vicious, unrelenting, and most certainly welcome. Three-word band names be damned, give this one a listen.