`As Darkness Falls’ is German death metal fanatics Deny The Urge’s third album, and it really does pack quite a punch. I’ve heard a LOT of death metal over the years, particularly so-called `old school’ death metal; very often it is just an unimaginative re-hash of another band’s ideas. It is certainly true that originality is very hard to find in an over-saturated genre, and really, why should a band aim to be original just for the sake of it? This crew from Braunschweig aren’t really what you could call a brand-new, original death metal band. So, the next question is – is it any good? The answer is, undoubtedly yes.

Taking their cues from classic mid-period Morbid Angel and Vader in particular, Deny The Urge create dark, heavy and intense death metal with a theatrical flair, just like their musical heroes. There is a lot of great playing talent on display on `As Darkness Falls’, with some truly acrobatic guitar soloing, and tight, intense and aggressive drumming, like a precision air strike. Meaty, sinister and seizure-inducing riffs are everywhere, as well as the occasional presence of some atmospheric keyboards. Normally I’m not that into the inclusion of keyboards (with one or two exceptions), but Deny The Urge use them to great effect, they really heighten the melodrama and theatricality.

I’ve already mentioned that they sound like Morbid Angel – there are a lot of classic musical influences from that band to be found here; lots of that blasting shuffle beat and churning, chromatic riffs. Combined with the amazingly over-the-top guitar solos it is really hard not to headbang enthusiastically to it (don’t try this while driving down the motorway). The overall feel of the album is a dark, cinematic horror-fest, which takes me right back to the mid-90’s.  Even the vocals have that classic feel; plenty of bestial growling, snarling and screaming but you can also hear actual lyrics being roared.

There are a great many truly wonderful death metal moments on this album, even including the instrumental passages. It’s not all just a carbon copy of our favourite Floridians; there are some grim, atmospheric passages a la Dismember, Hypocrisy and Grave too, with eerie fast-picked single note riffs and truly moribund melodies creeping around your ear drums like dust-ridden ghosts (sorry, that’s the best I can come up with today!) whispering otherworldly threats.

I think my only criticism of this enjoyable and heavy album is that the songs just aren’t quite memorable enough to really stand out on their own. It’s almost there, but not quite. That said, there are lots of great, bone-crunching death metal moments for fans of the classic stuff to enjoy. Morbid Angel had their ups and downs musically, but Deny The Urge seem to be going from strength to strength.

(7.5/10 Jon Butlin)