When a band describe themselves as “extreme ritual metal” you know you are in for something interesting, Darkend have brought together many elements to create a Symphonic Black metal masterpiece. The final result is “The Canticle of Shadows”; which is as atmospheric as it is enchanting, mixing black metal brutality with operatic melodies.
Opening track “Clavicula Salomonis” is full of beautiful harmonies with slices of rough black metal vocals. The piano and orchestral sound gives the song depth and an overall grand scale, while the guitars and vocals balance it all out. The melody of the guitar is haunting, creating an icy chill down your spine. “Of the Defunct” is the first song to feature the many guest appearances on this album, with Attila Csihar of Mayhem. As the holy church like intro begins, the guitar creates a hymn to serenade the dead. With lyrics that talk of dying and the passage into death, this bleak sense of dread overcomes the senses. Emphasized by a masterful guitar solo, that bleeds with passion. Ending with screams and cries of death cutting through the haunting piano and sounds of the unknown.
As the darkness continues with “A Precipice Towards Abyssal Caves (Inmost Chasm, I)”, we are graced with an assault of drumming beats and entwining guitars. Animæ’s vocal style is strong and powers over the music, which inturn is a web of impeccable musicianship. The mixing in of a saxophone is done brilliantly, giving the song a thoughtful dimension. As violins take us into “Il Velo Delle Ombre”; Labes C. Necrothytus of Abysmal Grief takes some vocal duties. A choir of voices builds a veil; which falls with the opening of the guitars, showcased against the blast beats.
Niklas Kvarforth of Shining; brings his DSBM element to “A Passage Through Abysmal Caverns (Inmost Chasm, II)”. Which has an intense drum breakdown, that makes way for beautiful violins. The song arrangement works well in creating a balance between the aggression and soulful melodies. Ending with a harmony that takes you into “Sealed in Black Moon and Saturn”, again featuring Attila Csihar of Mayhem. The battle between the strings and grand orchestral sounds and raw guitar and drums, is intense.
“Congressus cum Dæmone” opens with bells chiming and superb guitar riffs, that lead into a blinding solo. Before Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ, lends his vocal talents to the track. Lyrically bleak; the song offers some my favourite guitar on the album. As it ends the bells ring out once more, bringing this ritual in black metal to an end. There are many comparisons that could be made, but all I will say is if you like your black metal with a bit of grandeur, musical texture and passion; your in for a treat.