DarkTranceDarktrance is the project of sole member Deimos (also of Cold Resistance and Dargoth), a Ukrainian dark metal band which was created in 2007. ‘Pessimum’ is the projects third album, purveying a twisted brand of doomy dark metal that brims with mood, whilst not being afraid to kick out the black metal riffage when the carnal need is required.

“Anthem of Melancholy” opens the album with a clean, echoing guitar slowly ringing out, before slowly building into a crescendo of gradually churning guitars and spacey, spooky atmospheric keyboards. It’s at this point when the deranged vocals kick in, and I’m pleasantly reminded of early Bethlehem, and also of Marco Kehren’s Deinonychus. Great chunks of Forgotten Tomb like melodies ring throughout the chiming guitar work, as the vocals suddenly change to a clean, smooth tone, before switching to a guttural bellowing style – the guy certainly has decent range to play with for sure, and maximises each differing styles potential alongside the fitting musical accompaniment. The title track “Pessimum” broods with an uncompromising and unrelenting atmosphere which pervades the listener with chugging persistence, occasionally even picking up speed to rattle into a gnarly blackened blast beat or two. “Day X” is filled with staccato, shimmering guitars, chopping and stuttering throughout, bouncing from one speaker to the next so as to confuse and hypnotise. This coupled with the cleanly orated lyrics gives off a great, uneasy aura to the track. “Rejection” is filled with an evil vibe, made so by an abundance of sick barked vocals, and an array of discordant guitar work and feverishly nauseating bass work that poisons every second of the track. Finishing up with the longest song on the album, the 8 minute plus “Last” has an epic vibe about it, telling a musical story which at times even comes across as being uplifting in comparison to the rest of the album, even with all the minor key abuse throughout.

In all, there are just over 65 minutes of music to absorb here. So similarly to a lot of doom and dark metal, this isn’t something that can be thrown on in the background if you’re wanting to maximise enjoyment by sucking out every last drop of atmosphere by giving it the time to sink in. I had to have a few intensive listens before it fully clicked, as I found listening at work or on a car journey when my mind was elsewhere, it just wasn’t being allowed to unfurl its tentacles so as to burrow its hook-like barbs into my brain to allow its venom to spread!

There are a lot of great ideas here which are pulled off impressively well more often than not. The atmosphere is in abundance thanks to the great yet subtle keyboard work, and the chugging heavy guitar work (in a clear, crisp production that allows even the faintest of nuance to be picked up from the simplest of guitar lines). Personally the thing that makes this album for me is the aforementioned vocals. When singing clean, Deimos captures your attention like some twisted Gregorian monk, and when breaking every chain of sanity and fully letting loose, the harsh vocals really do sound brilliantly unhinged. This is a must for dark metal enthusiasts.

(7/10 Lars Christiansen)