DantalionAlbum number five from Spaniards Dantalion and my first encounter with them. Apparently the band started as a black metal act but over the years have defined their sound and moved on to play a blend of atmospheric death doom. I took a look back over their past releases to see when this change occurred and noted that their last album 2012’s ‘Return To Deep Lethargy’ had a cover version of Katatonia classic ‘Murder’ on it so it was no doubt some time before that.

One look at the cover art had me wondering if they were more of a thrash band though, compare it to the classic sleeve art of Annihilator’s ‘Alice In Hell’ and you will see exactly what I mean. Also on pressing play the intro music kind of suggests the likes of King Diamond or even Cradle Of Filth as ‘Revenge In The Cold Night’ is pure sparkly (ice cream van) horror music keyboards with a haunted child weeping over the top. Eerie and effective stuff before a heavy melody and keyboards drench things in a doomy death demeanour. Katatonia are a good similarity of comparison here along with the likes of bands like November’s Doom and October Tide. It’s cold, frosty and very wintery. Diego who it would appear has only been in the band since 2014 has a low gruff vocal delivery which works well. Two other band members have also only been present since 2013 so obviously they have had to make various changes to get where they are now; luckily on the strength of this material, things have worked out well. There’s some dynamic flourishes, a really good sense of melody and some neat weeping solo guitar lines. All in all this quickly drenches in a moribund atmosphere and tracks flow together nicely. Raven’s Dawn meanders in and chills things down a little before building and dropping out again with what sounds like a tolling bell mournfully being struck in the background. Vocals become more strident as the instrumental parts hit a peak and the two styles of slow and hefty, work well together driving things along. Some clean vocals add a bit of extra depth on ‘Lost In Old Memory’ but the gruff ones are quickly back in force and musicianship reminds quite a bit of the likes of Insomnium by now as things coast along and another effective guitar solo spirals out. The depressive flair of the melody is constant and after a few listens the album really begins to get under the skin.

The album’s pinnacle is definitely its longest track ‘The Tree Of Shadows’ which in my mind listening to it is massive and has nooses with the decayed remains of the damned hanging from the branches and mandrake growing below. The vocals move between rough and harmonious and the melody is dark and at times also uplifting. It seems they have really hit the balance right on this one. After a brief instrumental interlude which kind of doesn’t work as it breaks the flow there are a couple more numbers offering more of the same high standard but to describe them in depth would have me repeating myself really and the album running at a perfect 42 minutes in length is just the right length.

Whilst Dantalion don’t provide the most original listen in the world they do things very well and there’s plenty to like about this album. I don’t think I’m going to rush out and discover their back catalogue but I will certainly be interested in where they take things from here.

(7/10 Pete Woods)