Zornheym - Where Hatred Dwells And Darkness 01First, a question: do you love King Diamond?1 If the answer is no, you’re dead to me. If the answer is yes, congratulations; my definitive opinion deems you worthy. If, however, you’ve always been enticed by the inherent fun of the King‘s horror-fiction but have never been able to click with Bendix’s unique vocals, or perhaps found the music a little lacking in extremity, then… you’re dead to me. But fear not, fallible one, a saviour crests on this wan-mooned abyss of night. Zornheym, a Stockholm based predator culled from the likes of Dark Funeral, Diabolical, and Facebreaker, have collectively extended their talents into a symphonic project whose oeuvre borrows from both black and death metal. A concept album of sorts, Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns turns its attention to a select group of malcontents inhabiting the fictional Zornheim Psychiatric Hospital, presided over by one Dr. Bettleheim. Each song offers a self-contained glimpse into the inmates’ unique symptoms: frissons of murder, demonic visitation and arson incarnate. Grandma would be proud.

In such experienced and capable hands, Where Hatred Dwells… is an unsurprisingly well-developed debut. Nine songs — six full and three instrumental interludes — sally forth with Dimmu Borgir-worthy melodrama, whilst brandishing a set of teeth not to be underestimated. Compounded with the use of a full orchestra and Zornheym’s Chorus Tenebris choir, each song marches through halls of pulp horror, engaged with lashings of melodic memorability. Even those amongst us with a more hardy constitution for such symphonic fare can agree that the genre’s main detraction is its willingness to offer style over substance — Zornheym buck the trend with intrusive hooks, destined to both maim and lure.

Case study number one, “The Opposed,” detailing a patient with a conflicting psychosis regarding his supposedly sentient facial deformity, wastes nary a second, deploying instantly gratifying riffs and a huge shout along chorus. Infectious palm mutes and ringing tremolos reinforced with the insistent string section promise to press every second into memory. As a narrative tool, frontman, Bendler, vacillates between a mid range growl and a more blackened rasp, to differentiate between the characters. The inclusion of occasional cleans further delineates the cast, such as on “Trifecta of Horrors” recounting Dr. Bettleheim’s sessions with a patient possessed of supernaturally dissociative identities. Lead guitarist and driving force, Zorn, injects a powerful sense of melody amongst the blast beats. His solos are consistently fluid and often synchronize with eastern motifs, as on the bridge of “A Silent God,” one of the record’s most potent.

Zornheym - Where Hatred Dwells And Darkness 02

I do not enjoy instrumental interludes, but, in this context, they are at least bearable. However, at just over a minute apiece, they could have been bolted onto the beginning of each of the songs they are designated to accentuate, instead of acting as a dramatic precursor adorned with their own track number. “Hestia,” the album’s scorching finale, ends with three minutes of ambient instrumentation — the strength of the song, fortunately, remains intact, making full use of the choir with another exemplary chorus and evocative riff work, but all of that excess could have been reforged into another macabre morsel; I wanted more and I should have had it. Fortunately, moments like “Whom the Night Brings” never fail to alleviate that minor gripe. Cradle of Filth inspired strings repeatedly pierce the melodrama amidst a muscular clean/growled vocal tandem and driving rhythms. At an attractive DR9, the album defies the usual compression, while the mix dutifully highlights the orchestra, balancing the vocals and guitars nicely. The bass isn’t so lucky and inevitably drowns in the bombast, but, considering the nature of the music, the orchestra provides enough depth to at least soften the blow.

Zornheym set out to illustrate how vital symphonic metal can be when done right, and in their endeavour, have at the very least debuted a template that much of the genre’s imitators would do well to acknowledge. Through every listen, I poured over the accompanying doctor’s note format reports that appraised each subject, and couldn’t help but grin at the obvious tribute to Dr. Eastmann and his cohorts. Although originality was never the aim here, Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns is overwhelmingly fun and establishes a fantastic example of great songwriting despite the occasional overindulgence. I highly recommend you invest some willingness into what is, simply, a damn good time. But don’t linger too long, Zornheim beckons for those of a compulsive disposition…

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Non Serviam Records
Websites: facebook.com/zornheymofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 15th, 2017

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  1. Put those trousers back on, Grier!
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  • sir_c

    The clip sounds pretty decent actually. It’s not groundbreaking maybe but I do like it nonetheless. Cheers!

  • Master of Muppets

    “I do not enjoy musical interludes”
    It would seem that we find ourselves dead to each other.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    First off…..thank you for your correct spelling of saviour.
    Secondly. ….take my money.

    • Master of Muppets

      Man, Non Serviam Records is definitely a label to follow. A couple minutes on their Bandcamp page’ll have you broke, f’sho.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        I’m already broke from the mountain of great albums this year…..

        • Master of Muppets

          I exist in a constant state of poverty thanks to that site, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think at this point I might actually periodically forget random information in order to make room in my brain for all the music I’m discovering these days.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Yeah there can definitely be a tendency to not give new music the time necessary to sink in due to the barrage of bands releasing stuff these days.
            Sometimes it’s good to just sit on an album for a few days to really enjoy it.

      • Here’s Johnny

        the album reviewed is on ‘name your price’ on their bandcamp right now.

        • Master of Muppets


    • Ferrous Beuller

      I know where my U’s belong.

  • You’re all dead to me.

  • Chris

    The embedded track had a very Carach Angren vibe to it. Definitely going to check out that album.

    • metalcasket

      That’s the first thing that popped into my head.

      Really good stuff…and ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp. Nuts!

  • Planex

    Now this really sounds interesting. We need more quality non-doom/power lately

    • Master of Muppets

      Wander around the Bandcamp grounds, there’s been sooo fucking much excellent metal this year and a lot of it can be found there with minimal effort.
      Also, “we need less power metal” would have sufficed.

  • Ivan E. Rection

    I dig this, reminds me a bit of Hollenthon, and they rule(d).

  • Wilhelm

    I like this, as someone else said Hollenthon comes to mind.

    • GardensTale

      I had completely forgotten about Hollenthon for the last decade or so!

  • madhare

    Nice find! And rather nice music video too.

  • h_f_m

    Embedded track is a 4.5..

    • Yolo Swaggins

      fully agree.

      • Ferrous Beuller

        Check out “Whom the Night Brings”. What a jam.

        • Yolo Swaggins

          will do.

        • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

          That song just keeps on giving, holy shit.

    • Tofu muncher

      Yep. How do I get my teeth as white as those?

  • Yolo Swaggins

    I love this so fucking much.

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    Carach Angren didn’t click for me but the embedded track does the trick. Loving the cover art and the name your price on Bandcamp as well. Definite purchase.

  • GWW

    Sounds great…with little substance. Boring. I’m sure this would be good for a couple of spins, but

  • GWW

    So, what the hell does this record have to do with King Diamond!?

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Thematically, it owes a narrative debt to the King. Musically otherwise, of course.

  • Yolo Swaggins

    Now that I’ve had time to sit with this, I daresay this is my AoTM

  • PeskAD

    If my new doctor waltzed into my cell looking like a member of Amon Amarth I’d flip out, too.

  • Brian Hudson

    I fucking love this album. Throughout a year of generic melodic death and black, this one stood out. Can’t wait for the next one.

  • Lithophyte

    Tasty stuff! Will indulge further…

  • AnnieK13

    Really liking this so far and as a ‘name your own price’ on Bandcamp this is a definite buy!

  • Shane R

    I wasn’t loving the mix on the video, but the album promo I found sounded much better. This is very good. Very tight too – no prolonged moments of aimlessness. The last half has the oppressive progression of Bethemoth’s material.

  • gdffgdfgd

    “At an attractive DR9, the album defies the usual compression”

    Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be entirely true. Most tracks are actually DR6-7 and the interludes bring it up to a DR8 for the lossless version.
    At least that’s what I got on bandcamp, maybe the promo was different (wouldn’t be the first time).

    I still like it, just thought I’d point that out.

    • My promo is measured to DR7 for all six songs, and DR11 in average for the three interludes, ending in a total of DR8.

  • Tofu muncher

    I’m totally getting this one.