Band name, album title, record label, it’s kind of like we are writing in some sort of arcane and long forgotten language. But it’s our language and those versed in Norwegian Black Metal and very good French record labels are all who need to entry! Dødsengel hit my particular radar when they kindly sent in their debut album ‘Visionary’ back in 2009. This and follow up ‘Mirium Occultum’ the year later proved incredibly dense and challenging listens which were far from formulaic. There was no particular orthodoxy about this strange duo comprising of drummer Malach Adonai and Kark who did everything else at all. One got the ideas that strictures be damned these were somewhat mischievous tykes who wanted to bend the rules as well as bamboozle the senses. With it though they were both incredibly clever and talented and I guess they were embraced by those in the underground who truly are picky sons of bitches and received with the recognition they deserved. (The fact they have recently been involved in split releases with Nightbringer and Hetrohertzen, surely enforces this notion.) Skip ahead a few years and it seems that I must have annoyingly missed double album ‘Imperator’ in 2012 and have lost out on 2 ½ hours-worth of music by the looks of things. Since then the duo have jumped to Debemur Morti and with the strangely titled Interequinox it’s time to get reacquainted.
Kind of in line with their debut here we have 11 tracks and close to an hour’s worth of music; there are no epic numbers here which means the pair have plenty of scope to pack many different ideas into the music on display. Although not schizophrenic the ride is certainly a very diverse one too. First thing that strikes is the screech and the bouncing motion of ‘Pangenetor’ suggesting there is also quite an accessible flair about things. I hardly want to mention Dødsengel in the same sentence as Cradle Of Filth but there is a touch of it here as well as the theatricality of Carach Angren. There’s also plenty of forceful drive and ‘Prince Of Ashes’ gallops off like a duke in an old Roger Corman film, through the woods pursued by a headless horseman and the hounds of hell. Vocals prove incredibly multi-faceted with high and low parts as well as the occasional massive croons admirably handled making you realise that Kark must be putting one hell of a lot of himself into things if he is doing everything bar the drumming. It’s far from handled at full pelt all the way through either, ‘Emerald Earth’ for instance slows things down with some clean vocals a little reminiscent of John Lydon amidst some glittering gothic guitar structures. By comparison when they hit a massive furrowing surge on tracks like ‘Opaque’ it’s all really quite magnificent and giddy stuff as the motion hurtles along with an unstoppable and powerful force perpetuated by low growls and ghastly yells.
There’s some really mysterious and mystical melodies that seep in between the worms in the woodwork too and ‘Illusions’ starts with one before moving into a real nightmarish horror-show capable of freezing blood with sheer ghoulishness and a massive theatrical flair dripping off it. Each and every track brings something completely different and unexpected to the table, you wouldn’t really expect metallic guitar histrionics and some Pink Floyd like vocal warbles but that’s just what you find yourself hearing on ‘Palindromes.’ There’s a lot of playing around on the album but it really meshes together well and who wants to be listening to the same song repeated ad-infinitum anyway? It’s probably the drive and catchy guitar clamour of ‘Ved Alltings Ende’ that is going to be the song that gets its hooks in the most, certainly caused an instant impression on the first listen for me and has had me bouncing away on following spins. ‘Rubedo’ takes things as far away from what you would expect as possible, a cleanly sung and rather beautiful ballad etched slow-burning number, be prepared for the curveball it proffers but similarly anticipate being entranced.
As anticipated there is stacks going on here to get your head round and it’s going to take a lot of listens to do so. Thankfully that hasn’t been a problem for me and I have really enjoyed this. One complaint if forced though is that the production seemed a little on the weak side here and it could have done with a bit more oomph. Luckily that just meant boosting the volume up a few notches and didn’t diminish the strength of the actual music itself.
(8/10 Pete Woods)