Produced by Dan Swanö with Blackheim. Captured with analogue devices at Unisound Studio, September 1995. Mixed and engineered by Dan Swanö. Mastered by Peter In De Betou at The Cutting Room. All music, lyrics and concepts written between 1993-1995. Released on Adipocere Records, 1996; re-released on Peaceville Records, 2007.
The band split in September 2004.
Until this album I had only 18 black metal albums in my CD collection (I still have a few more albums on cassette). I was hoping that I’d like this one, not least because I have another two Diabolical Masquerade albums to review after this.
The band essentially consists of two people Dan Swanö on drum programming and Blackheim on everything else. According to Encyclopaedia Metallum the band split in 2004 and despite various rumours about a comeback to date it is yet to happen.
This isn’t a black metal-by-numbers album. In the style of a Marks & Spencer’s advert. This isn’t just black metal, this is avant-garde, atmospheric black metal. And it’s good. It’s really good.
I say this quite a lot in these reviews. What I’m really looking for is something that is interesting, not just a solid wall of white noise with uncontrolled yelling. This album definitely ticks that particular box.
The album opener, “The castle of Blackheim”, begins as you might expect with a quietly atmospheric clean guitar then kicks into a fairly standard black metal style riff. But about three minutes in there’s a new melody that sounds like an electric saw, that makes a reappearance around 5′ 30″. It’s not much but darn! it’s effective.
With some songs there is an almost NWOBHM feel to parts, such as the instrumental “Beyond the spiritual moon” and the main riff in “Blackheim’s forest kept the season forever”. That song deserves special mention as it also features King Diamond-style vocals from Dan Swanö and an atonal guitar solo that could have been lifted from a Slayer album.
Another highlight for me is “Blackheim’s hunt for nocturnal grace” which opens nicely with a quietly picked bass arpeggio. The song then creeps along like a creature lurching between pools of light, trying to catch its step between one lamppost and the next. The deep throaty spoken words around five minutes in is rather special. But the sudden high frequency tone at 7′ 20″ is enough on some days to give me a crippling headache within a split second.
With five mentions of Blackheim in the song title, one does wonder whether Blackheim always speaks about Blackheim in the third person.
The closing track, the title track, “Ravendusk in my heart” has a strong bass dominance (think Megadeth “Dawn Patrol”) and a resurgence of deep, gruff spoken vocals.
Each album I put on during this project I do so with a sense of hope and anticipation. I wasn’t let down by this album. The more I’ve listened to it, the more I’ve enjoyed and the more subtleties I’ve been able to appreciate. This has been quite a pleasant surprise and a great find. A definite keeper.
Review score: 90%