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Enthroned Darkness : Grim Symphony of the Night

Effectively delivered: Enthroned Darkness taking on the Castlevania gaming franchise.

'Grim Symphony of the Night' sees Italy's Enthroned Darkness follow up 2014's 'Frozen Emotions at Dusk' with a concept album Inspired by the Castlevania video game franchise that made its name on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1987. Gamers of a certain vintage will remember it as a spooky, side-scrolling platformer, the object of which was to fight your way through Dracula's castle defeating his minions, before ultimately taking on Dracula himself. The franchise has since spawned numerous sequels across various formats, developing with each release to become a lush Hammer-esque gothic powerhouse with orchestral soundtracks and exquisitely detailed graphics.

Still, it's a strange idea for a concept album, I hear you cry. Perhaps it is, but if Pete Townshend can record an album about a deaf, dumb and blind boy that happens to be remarkably good at pinball, then why not a Funeral Doom record about a series about of highly addictive Konami video games? Opening track 'Shadows over Carpathian Forest' certainly creates an eerie, unsettling atmosphere reminiscent of the Castlevania games, and gothic vampire fiction in general. The sparse Dark Ambient keyboards and screeching background noises build a sense of fearful anticipation, and one can almost picture oneself being driven by cart to a looming gothic castle, a sturdy local peasant driving the unwilling horses forward, and dropping dark, enigmatic hints about your impending doom.

As the album progresses, the tension builds as ethereal keyboard riffs chill the blood and down tempo Funeral Doom beats and strangled, tortured vocals unsettle the listener. Instrumental interludes are used to great effect to gradually mount the sense of dread before each disturbing crescendo, with 'Vampire Killer Belmont's Legacy' providing a particularly effective balance between Funeral Doom and Dark Ambient. It's easy for the listener to imagine Christopher Lee lurking in a dark alcove in Castle Dracula, ready to bare his fangs at one of his unwitting guests as they make their way to bed.

Fans of the games will be pleased at the references to the franchise, both in the song titles and lyrics (Belmont is the playable character in the first two NES games), but also in the music itself. 'Grim Symphony of the Night' in particular captures the atmosphere of the early games with a simple and repetitive keyboard riff very reminiscent of the music from an 8-bit video game. Despite this, in the context of the song, it doesn't sound dated: it works as a disturbing piece with a nod to the golden age of home video gaming.

There are certain points when the album can feel a little bloated with over half the tracks clocking in at more than eleven minutes, and in some cases not necessarily always progressing, or offering anything new as the song meanders to its conclusion. That said, the album remains dark and atmospheric throughout, featuring interesting contrasts between brutal screamed vocals, ethereal keyboards and whispered, terror-filled spoken interludes. 'Grim Symphony of the Night' certainly succeeds in delivering a very gothic and disturbing experience for the listener, and while it's an unusual concept for an album, it's effectively delivered.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Shadows Over Carpathian Forest
2. Vampire Killer: Belmont's Legacy
3. Grim Symphony of the Night
4. Among the ruins of Vlad's Castle
5. The Mighty Lords of Shadow
6. Power of Light and Curse of Darkness
7. Circle of the Dark Moon

Duration : Approx. 57 minutes

Visit the Enthroned Darkness bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-04-04 by Nick Harkins
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