Wow, it’s been three years since I reviewed Dalkhu‘s Descend… into Nothingness? Where in the hell has the time gone? When I reviewed it, a new life had just begun for me, right when this fantastic black/death record dropped in my lap. Ever since then, I’ve come back to Descend… with regularity. Not only is it an exceptional piece of deathy Dissection but it marked a huge progression for Dalkhu. Within one release, the band morphed from the sharp—and, sometimes, unpleasant—attacks of the blackened Imperator to the polished, passioned, and death-centered Descend... As one would expect, I had high hopes for more of the same treatment from this year’s Lamentation and Ardent Fire. But, it seems, the band is incapable of sitting still. Not to mention their inability to maintain a consistent lineup.1 So, what’ll it be for Lamentation: black or death?
It’s strange but I’ve always thought of Panzerchrist when listening to Dalkhu. Not because this Slovenian threesome shares songwriting chops with the Danish foursome2 but because of the slight black/death alterations across their discography. When I first got into Panzerchrist, it was back in the days of Outpost – Fort Europa and Soul Collector—records that had heavy doses of black metal throughout. Then the band stoked the death metal embers with Room Service and Battalion Beast. In some ways, Dalkhu took a similar path—transitioning Imperator‘s blackish metal sound to the death metal assault of Descend… The evolution produced two albums; one resembling night, the other, day. And it doesn’t seem to stop there. The creature known as Dalkhu is restless; unwilling to settle with a sound you (or I) would expect.
After the building intro of opener “Profanity Galore,” it’s clear—via brooding, melodic atmospheres—that the band has reverted back to their black metal ways. But, along with follow-up track, “I Am,” they seems intent on using black, melodic clay to mold Lamentation. When compared to the jarring assaults of Imperator, these two pieces meld over each other like one, smooth, fourteen-minute long piece. Which might suggest fluidity between the tracks (and it does) but the songs’ likeness has me tuning out during most of “I Am.”
Then, the Satyricon-meets-Gorgorothian “Rime” rears its ugly head, smashing the mood with its violent sinisterness. It comes charging out of the gates, becoming even more fierce as it progresses. But, the climax arrives when the marching, Panzerchrist-like drum-raps fuse with the dissonant guitar work. Not to mention, the song houses the most-vicious vocal performance of the album. “Gaps of Existence” follows with more of the Gorgoroth influences but with lots of old-school Dissection thrown in. It’s not quite to the extent administered to Descend…, but the slight alterations in the rasp and high-pitched guitar work feels like the late, great Jon Nödtveidt.
That said, the two closing tracks are what the entire album works up to. Not only do both embody the same aggression—as well as the same atmospheric air—that enshrouds the entire album but they add a uniqueness to Lamentation. “The Dead Sleep with Their Eyes Open” is chock-full of memorable riffs and a black/death ferocity that are offset by the shocking introduction of clean vocals—the latter fitting like a fucking glove in this stacked, five-minute ditty. The song is a constant climb to the bitter end and, even when it looks like it’s spent, it powers through with a final massive death lick. The closer also uses clean vocals, with an almost Shining vibe to them, while it climbs and falls around Hypocrisy-like melodic riffage. It’s a crushing combination that concludes the album well.
With my favorites only being “Rime,” “Night,” “Gaps of Existence,” and “The Dead Sleep with Their Eyes Open”—the others being just this side of “filler”—it’s clear that I’m not as taken by this album as I was with Descend... That said, Lamentation and Ardent Fire is better than Imperator. Which says something. Unfortunately, it takes a couple tracks to get things rolling and the back-half of the album is stronger than the front. While runtime doesn’t deserve the full blame, much of the hindrance in the first half of the album is due to the length and single-speed drive of “I Am” and “Profanity Galore.” Either way, Lamentation is still a solid album and a great addition to the band’s catalog. And, when it gets going, it goes.