Music score composed and produced by Blakkheim and Dan Swanö. Performed by Diabolical Masquerade, with guest musicians The Maalten Quartet, Estonia. Recorded at The Sanctuary, except orchestrations recorded at Trivial Studios. Re-released on Peaceville Records, 2007.
When is a film soundtrack not a film soundtrack? That’s not too daft a question given the number of so-called soundtrack albums that simply feature music that was inspired by the film but was never actually featured on it. Well, this album is kind of the other way around: while the music was inspired by the film (Death’s Design) and it’s true that the music was never featured on the film the simple reason is because the film was never made. It all appears to have been a big joke from Blakkheim (who seems to have upgraded his ‘c’ to a ‘k’ since the release of his last compact disc, or perhaps that should be compact disk).
What we’re left with then is a black metal concept album, where the concept is a film soundtrack. And it’s brilliant. I have loved listening to this album, over and over and over again, this past week. Having loved Ravendusk in my Heart (1996) two weeks ago, and been disappointed with The Phantom Lodge (1997) last week, I’m relieved to find Blakkheim not only back on top form but exceeding himself.
The album lasts only 43 minutes 26 seconds, but it packs in 61 tracks (take that, Slayer—Reign in Blood!). The shortest track is 6 seconds, the longest 1 minute 26 seconds. This is clearly a black metal album — it has its fair share of pummelling riffs, blast beats and growling vocals — but it’s much more than that too. It’s experimental, it’s avant garde, it’s progressive metal; there are quiet passages, acoustic tracks, and piano-like keyboards; they even have an Estonian string quartet (The Maalten Quartet). This album is quite, quite bonkers. But it’s brilliant! It’s utterly, utterly brilliant!
I really don’t want to have to stop listening to this album every day. I feel a resistance to review the next album that I have stacked up.
It was only this week that I researched Blakkheim and Dan Swanö’s metal pedigree. I wasn’t disappointed. No wonder I like Blakkheim’s stuff. He’s the guitarist in Katatonia (1991–present) and Bloodbath, where he and Swanö performed alongside Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt. (Opeth are one of my favourite bands. Of all time. Ever.)
Have I already said how much I love this album?
What more can I say? If I could give this album more than 100% I would.
I’ve only now just looked up the reviews on Encyclopaedia Metallum: four reviews giving scores of 90% (“masterpiece of an album”), 93% (“amazing piece of soundscape”), 95% (“wild, intense, diverse,…”) and 100% (“A taste of everything”). I can’t argue with that.
One review said “So why not a 100 for this amazing piece of soundscape? It gets tiring after a while — no way you can listen to this one more the once a week without having its quality dropping before your ears.”. I disagree. I’ve listened to it on repeat for most of the week, and it just get better and better with each listen.
I think this is by far my favourite album that I’ve reviewed so far. Maybe I should just give away the remaining albums. Surely there can’t be anything else to top this piece of eccentric musical genius? Can there?
Review score: 100%