If there is one thing that can be said about Slovenia, it’s that they have supplied us with a number of great metal bands. For instance, there is… ummmm… well… fine, so I don’t know any off the top of my head. But they’ve given us at least one good metal band. Hitting the scene with a full-length debut in 2010, Dalkhu blasted the ears of some small portion of the world with a mostly run-of-the-mill black-metal assault focused on the antics of Dissection – depressive leads, tremolo-picked melodies, and an overall sense of blackness. After the release of Imperator, most of the band went its separate ways while guitarist/bassist J.G. opened a black-death recruiting office for the creation of a new band and a new sound. Succeeding in bringing aboard P.Z. as new vocalist and Spawn of the Void on session drums, J.G. is back with a sound so different that a new band name might be in order.
The first thing you will notice about Descend… into Nothingness, as the opening heartbeat transitions into the beating drums and chomping guitars of “Pitch Black Cave,” is that the vocals are a near 180 from what they were on the debut. While Berstuk sported a blackened rasp to “match” the music on Imperator, new vocalist P.Z. takes Descends… and gives it a trollish death growl to better suit the new death elements. While the vocals are equally as monotone as Berstuk’s rasps, P.Z.’s guttural contributions offer much more in the way of uniqueness and memorability. A song like “In The Woods,” which appears to be a typical Dissection knockoff full of nifty guitar leads, layers of emotion, and a barrage of crisp drumming, is injected with grimness and a heavy-as-fuck demeanor. Follow-up track, “Distant Cry,” takes the formula further with a punchier and heavier rendering of Alcest-like atmospheres that somehow work in this extreme context.
Dalkhu also provides a better sense of diversity in their songwriting. The back-half of the album consists of the Polish-death inspired “Accepting the Burried Signs” (is that a typo?) and the Amon Amarth-tinged “Soulkeepers,” which seem to slyly settle into pre-made bulldozer tracks before scaling the ruts to pave a path through murky, melodious landscapes. This diversification (including what sounds like distant clean vocals) further buries Imperator in the past and drives you forward, deeper into the black hole threatening to swallow the cover. After this backside one-two punch, the album ends with the ten-minute blackened, death-coster, “E.N.N.F.” Not an over-the-top epic, the closer does a good job of delivering an overture of the sights and sounds of the band’s new style (much like “The Spirit of Soldiers” does for Panzerchrist). However, this one will need a few spins to properly anticipate the lurchings that lead you toward the finale.
Dalkhu‘s new approach rarely goes into super-sonic speed, but instead utilizes black metal tremolos in a melodic fashion (akin to Dissection) and a crushing deliberateness to maximize the effect (see “The Fireborn” for a good example of some purposeful, deathy, Immortal-esque crunch). Slap on P.Z.’s new vocal style and a drummer that understands the message Dalkhu is trying to convey, and you have a band with a new heartbeat, frothing at the mouth. With knob-work handled by Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studios (who mastered last year’s awesome Onheil release), the production is rather clean with is just enough dynamics here to keep the eardrums from splitting.
Overall, this a much improved outing compared to their debut, and I look forward to hearing from these fiends in the future. So, if you’re a fan of the style, go grab this album now or grab the upcoming vinyl version (coming out on Iron Bonehead Productions) to better experience another Paolo Girardi painting on some 12″ gatefold.