Dkharmakhaoz – Proclamation ov the Black Suns Review

Belarus isn’t particularly well known for its black metal, with groups like Pa Vesh En, Downcross, and Folkvang (even blackened trap weirdos Mora Prokaza) spearheading the movement, but anonymous duo Dkharmakhaoz call it home. Debut Proclamation ov the Black Suns takes cues from blackened death stalwarts Behemoth in its uses of “ov” instead of “of,” and steeps itself in kvlt terminology and imagery.1 Proclaiming a fusion of second-wave black metal buried under contemporary sheets of impenetrable obsidian, its industrial edge bathes the whole ordeal in icy tar. Industrial black metal has not boded well in 2020, with groups like American snoozers T.O.M.B. and Dutch painmongers Ulveblod earning some of the lowest ratings I’ve awarded during my tenure. Dkharmakhaoz’s Proclamation ov the Black Suns, blessedly, is extremely well-written and densely punishing second-wave foray into atmospherics that never neglects its highlights.

What the album does right, when compared to industrial acts of the same ilk, is never forsake one blackened style for another, or sacrifice solid songwriting in the process. Yes, it features the expected blackened tremolos, blastbeats, and eerie rasps, but (a) the second-wave is extremely well-written, and (b) it’s uniquely executed through a cold and thickly industrial production that amps up its pitch-black atmosphere. Frankly, aside from poor excuses for industrial black metal, there are few who can stand alongside Dkharmakhaoz in quality, making this Proclamation… surprisingly monumental. It’s a sinister and eerie listen that expertly balances brutality and atmosphere, shelling out highlight after highlight while taking listeners to a place of obsidian skies, gnarled trees, inky oceans, and static whispers, a cracked horizon of sky weighing heavily on their shoulders.

Dkharmakaoz’s most prominent asset is its ridiculously good production. Taking cues from industrial acts like Author & Punisher and Necro Deathmort, as well as post-metal riffsmen CROWN, Proclamation ov the Black Suns features a gut-punchingly dense and downtuned guitar tone that plunges the second-wave adherence into abyssal darkness. It’s truly lethal. Assisted by an unwaveringly powerful drum tone, an aptly staticky and mechanical vocal style, and an ear for stellar songwriting, it’s also a difficult listen to categorize, one that balances the edge between accessible and evocative. Tracks like “The Cycle ov Omega” and “Beyond the Transcendental Lumines” capitalize on the dense tone in tremolo grooves over doom passages that dwell in thickness. Elsewhere, “The Way With the Serpent Entwined” and “Chthonic Rites ov Fertility” balance the razor’s edge with Behemoth-esque blackened death riffs and punishing blastbeats, utilizing varying textures of scathing and dense tremolo. With its emphasis on textures, Dkharmakhaoz accomplishes an atmosphere that recalls Behemoth’s Demigod or Ulcerate’s The Destroyers of All.

The title track serves as a climactic centerpiece as its an energetic and explosive assembly of the doomy and the blackened tremolo alongside passages of eerie ambiance that never feels bloated or overdone. “Ascension,” while easily the most experimental of the bunch, features strange melodies and off-kilter rhythms as well as a passage of female clean singing — not operatic in any way, but rather an alto voice that sounds more sultry than gothic, adding to the track’s unsettling atmosphere. Other catchy tricks throughout include the kickass grooves and hypnotic atmospheres of “Reu Nu Pert Em Hru” and “Beyond the Transcendental Lumines,” the fret slide and strangely beautiful solo of “Chthonic Rites ov Fertility,” and the downtuned and raw tremolo duel of “The Way With the Serpent Entwined” and “Ascension.” While the reception of the bizarre clean vocals may depend on the listener, what keeps Proclamation ov the Black Suns from legendary status is a passage of contrived plucking in opener “The Cycle ov Omega:” it feels neither dissonant nor melodic but some awkward limbo between. Blessedly, this is a symptom of the project’s youth and an extremely minor one in context to the album at large.

What’s perhaps most impressive about Dkharmakhaoz is its ability to maintain its dense and sinister atmosphere while emphasizing its highlights in riffs, tricks, and tasteful experimentation. It’s macrocosmically evocative while being microcosmically accessible and never ceases to be memorable. Uniquely funneling a second-wave black metal style through a densely industrial sonic palette in a feasible 36-minute runtime, Proclamation ov the Black Suns is a breath of fresh air between suffocating experimentation and blackened nostalgia that feels tastefully subtle and extremely satisfying: a thick slab of obsidian cracked over the dead horse of black metal.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Releases Worldwide: July 31st, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. i.e. Trying to fuse “dharma,” “karma,” and “chaos” into one very blackened moniker.
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