Contrary to popular belief, many of us writers here at Angry Metal Guy Institute haven’t been exposed to every band a genre offers. Whether that’s due to time constraints, the ol’ chestnut of “I’ll get around to checking them out eventually” and then forgetting to check them out eventually, or just the simple fact that you haven’t heard of them, many bands honestly fly under our radar. That’s just a fact of life. In this instance, I hadn’t heard a note of Germany’s black metal quartet Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult until guitarist/frontwoman Onielar took over the coveted mic for fellow German legends Bethlehem in 2016 on their self-titled album. Impressed by her manic delivery, I awaited word on when Mardom, their sixth album and their first release in six years, would drop into my willing paws, and see if that craziness would continue into her main band.
The only craziness found on Mardom lies in how frigid, traditional, and outright fucking good this is. “Mardom – Echo Zmory” wastes no time in leveling you with militaristic blasts, razor-sharp riffing, and Onielar cackling and shrieking like a wraith brought back for vengeance. The intensity only lets up just enough for some of the more atmospheric chords used by Onielar and fellow guitarist Velnias to breathe and build up tension before returning to realms of blastbeats and tremolo madness. Also, kudos to Horrn for using the “BOOTS-AND-PANTS” drum pattern that actually fits within the context of the song without it sounding hokey and laugh-inducing!
Mardom hooks, slices, and riffs like six years of time didn’t happen between albums. “T.O.W.D.A.T.H.A.B.T.E.” scratches that Immortal itch nicely with chilly riffs, thick bass, and some really cool fills by Horrn. Album highlight “Imperishable Soulless Gown” doubles down on the ferocity and hooks, with Horrn’s most thundering drumming and Onielar’s maniacal howls and shrieks elevating above an already impressive “we’re back and oh, by the way, fuck you” arrival party. Rarely does the album feel like a chore to listen to, as very little of the album’s 44 minutes is wasted.
That’s not to say that those moments don’t exist, however. Both opener “Inception of Atemporal Transition” and “Widma,” the album’s instrumental tracks, ultimately feel unnecessary. Granted, “Widma” at least builds up some tension and atmosphere, even if it feels a bit long-winded regardless of its three-and-a-half minute length. Also, the male moaning vocals during “The Boundless Beast” and “The Sphere” detract from the overall atmosphere rather than adding to it, and ended up causing me to giggle at points upon listening to them for the first time. Otherwise, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult took a classic sound made famous by Darkthrone and Immortal, and ramped up the intensity factor considerably.
And that’s all one can ask. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel all the time to grab my attention. Sometimes, just bearing down, going all guns blazing, and riffing as if your life (or undeath) depended on it will do just fine. Needless to say, Mardom eviscerates, possesses, and sucks your life force dry with the same conviction as the best of the second wave of black metal luminaries, and sometimes even eclipses them at their own game. It may not be perfect, but I can’t think of a better homecoming in recent years, save for Immortal‘s newest. That’s some pretty good company to keep, but Mardom is well worth the time spent waiting.