Serene Dark – Enantiodromia Review

“We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied, because we are the origin of all coming evil.” – Carl Jung, 1959

Of all of Carl Jung’s psychological ideas, the notion of the the shadow self has arguably been the most important one for my development as a person. Growing up in a faith that encouraged me to either deny, repress, or project onto others (whether unbelievers or the Devil himself) those aspects of my humanity that are considered undesirable, it has been important for me to come to terms with the harm that such a worldview can cause. If I don’t face those things about myself that I’d rather not, they will eventually erupt in unexpected, uncontrollable, and ultimately harmful ways. Metal music has been an enormous part of my journey through the shadow, allowing me to explore things that I never would have allowed myself to acknowledge before, things like anger, hatred, depression, and my own inner strength. When I saw that Enantiodromia by Ottawa’s Serene Dark was entirely based on Jung’s shadow conept, I snatched it up without any regard for genre or quality. Now, excuse me while I lie down on the couch and tell you about how this choice has affected me.

After thirteen years of existence as End Demise, the band felt that it had experienced enough change over the years to warrant a fresh start and a fresh name. So in a way, even though it continues with the eclectic genre bastardization seen on End Demise‘s previous releases, Enantiodromia is essentially the debut record from a new band. Serene Dark‘s sound is that of a terrifying laboratory experiment gone awry; the body of this blackened death metal behemoth was forged through the forced fusion of the symphonic powers of Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh, its mind imbued with the technical brutality of Shadow of Intent, and it was animated by the corrosively insane dragon’s breath of Anaal Nathrakh. But the mixology doesn’t stop there. Mournful melodeath passages and crushing OSDM riffs are thrown in for good measure, creating a chaotic mishmash of introspective aggression.

After a somber intro consisting of a recording of the above quote, strings, and keys, “Dualitatem” begins the album in earnest with a style that’s black metal and deathcore all at once, with blast beats, tremolos, and shrieks mixing with grooving riffs and melodic arpeggiated leads. Simultaneously beautiful and terrifying, the spirit of the music is aptly captured by the band’s new moniker. Single “Of Serpentine Form” rolls out of the gate with a death metal riff backed by symphonic swells while vocalist Francesco Falsetto — is that the name your mother gave you? — delivers an incredible, varied, and demented performance, recalling Anaal Nathrakh‘s Dave Hunt, Necropanther‘s Paul Anop, and Stevie Boiser (Inferi, Ashen Horde) in different moments. “Reflecting Envenomed” begins with a Cannibal Corpse riff then moves through a black metal passage and a prog rock jam complete with clean vocal chanting — of which I’m not a huge fan — before ending with a ginormous death metal tremolo backed by triumphant keys.

I connected strongly with the lyrical message of Enantiodromia. From the apathetic numbness of “Where Time Drowns Still” to the triumphant acceptance of “Onward, Burning Radiance,” Serene Dark have crafted a psychological journey that met me in a place of enormous stress. Its message brought a healing focus just when I needed it, and for that I’m grateful. I recently took a day to focus on my mental health, and a close listen of Enantiodromia with the lyric sheet in hand was one of my chosen practices. Its repetitive lyrics read like mantras meant to ground you in the message of each song, and I’ll admit that my connection to the theme boosted my opinion of the music momentarily. I was ready to drop the 4.0hammer™ (or higher) here, but decided to complete my quota of listens without the lyrics to more fairly cement my opinion. I’ve determined that some of the songs feel a tad long, and the aforementioned clean vocals feel a bit flat and dull the impact of a couple of tracks, especially powerful closer “Onward, Burning Radiance.” Despite these minor flaws, this is a record I see myself coming back to regularly. And not just for the theme, but for killer tracks like “Dualitatem,” “Of Serpentine Form,” “Reflecting Envenomed,” “Malocchio,” and “The Last Disciple of Dionysus.”

I really like what Serene Dark have done here. I’m a sucker for creatively mixed genres, and the lyrical journey from repression to acceptance to healing was just what the doctor ordered for me right now. The first album under their new name, I see Enantiodromia as a transition step towards bigger and better things for the band, and I can’t wait to see where their path leads.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: serenedark.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/serenedark
Releases Worldwide: July 17th, 2020

« »