With spikes, skulls and Sarcophago as my top 3 interests on ChristianMingle.com, I was surprised I hadn’t already heard of Force of Darkness. Formed in 2002, this Chilean trio released a self-titled debut in 2006 and a second LP Darkness Revelation in 2010. I was somewhat familiar with bassist/vocalist Nabucodonosor III’s other band Hades Archer, whom I had discovered via the standard method of searching for naughty words on metal-archives.org, thus stumbling on their 2008 EP Penis Metal. As EPs go it was fairly average in both length and quality.
Given that Nabucodonosor’s Penis Metal left me unsatisfied, I wasn’t expecting too much from Force of Darkness’ latest offering. The flaccid intro track wastes one minute and sixteen seconds of your life, but then “Thy Mystical Vibration” hits you square in the genitals with some seriously savage blackened thrash riffery. And what’s this? A fucking bass solo? Well it’s only brief, but Nabucowhatsit deploys full Joey DiMaio mode a mere three seconds into the track and it sounds amazing. This is not an isolated incident – “Creations from Obscurity” starts in a similar manner, while we’re treated to several more lighting quick fretboard adventures from Nabuco… Nabs on “Kliphotic Procreation” and “Abraxas Revenge.” It’s not just the solos that make the bass stand out – the basslines themselves are more interesting and varied than is usual for black/thrash, without ever being intrusive. He’s a damn decent vocalist too, keeping things varied with a mixture of gruff, rapid-fire Dittoheading, long rasping shrieks, and some bestial growls that sound like Mikael Åkerfeldt circa 1996. In fact the whole band contribute impressive performances.
Basslines and musicianship will only get you so far, though, so it’s fortunate that Force of Darkness turn out to be good songwriters as well as good players. The riffs are relentlessly savage, incorporating large dollops of Sarcofago and a sprinkling of Sodom with some (relatively) modern influences, including Aura Noir, Nifelheim and the more straightforward aspects of Absu. It’s hardly original, but it’s very well executed. Six tracks in twenty-one minutes is the ideal length for this sort of thing; I’m not so sure a full-length album would be able to hold my interest for its duration unless the band offered up a bit more variety. They do hint at being able to do this during closing track “Oceans of Black Lava.” which is more atmospheric than aggressive and features some of Nabs’ finest long growls.
The production is surprisingly good and fits the music nicely. Guitars are sharp but with ample body, the bass is nicely distorted, cymbals have plenty of zip and that classic 80s cavernous reverb has been applied to the toms. Sadly the sound has been squashed too much; the music would have benefited from a less heavy-handed compression approach to allow the various elements more breathing space and reduce listening fatigue (though with a running time of 21 minutes this isn’t so much of an issue). The original vinyl release of this actually appeared back in February, so you may want to check that out in case the mastering is superior to the CD version.
Force of Darkness are out to give you precisely what you want from a blackened thrash album (assuming our dating profiles match), and they’ve succeeded spectacularly with Absolute Verb of Chaos and Darkness: a super-tight, concentrated ball of fury that grabs you by the gonads and doesn’t let go until the final fade. Thank goodness it’s only an EP. [And you've used up your yearly allotment of penis jokes all in one review, kudos. — Steel Druhm].