What’s in a name? Well, if your band name is Darkfall, then, not that much. But if you’re curious to see why you shouldn’t judge a band by its name, then come on. Let’s be the jury.
Darkfall are a death / thrash / melodeath band hailing from Austria who play mainly a death-grounded variant thereof. This means hard, frenetic riffing, solid bass work, hard drums and growls. Thomas Spivak’s vocal style is actually your classic death metal rasps, which do not let off and add a nice layer to the overall package with their rather middle-of-range timbre rather than purely guttural, low, growly type. Thomas Kern ties the whole thing together with competent, to-be-reckoned-with drumming, working the double bass precisely the required amount rather than mindlessly pounding on it.
At the End of Times is the group’s sophomore effort, and is a somewhat lengthy beast, with most tracks averaging at or exceeding six minutes in length, sometimes without actual cause for it. But we’ll get to that. Let’s start with the positives. Things get off to a great start and keep it up for a bit. Ride Through the Sky is a great opener, and the purer strain of death metal displayed in the apty-titled The Breed of Death get things rolling quite nicely. The Way of Victory goes for the power-like territory and keeps a high pace, bright tones that offer variety. Hands down, Darkfall does it very well with these, and display not only competence, but flair with death metal and melding influences from other genres, such as melodeath, power metal, a bit of black metal.
If things didn’t start going off the wayside with track four, Deathcult Debauchery, then the album would be alright, despite the admittedly flow-breaking Welcome the Day You Die and the two tracks that come after sort of rendering the album too long for its own good. The main problem seems to be an overstay of welcome and a lack of judicious editing, in that songs start noodling with mindless ferocity that spaces you all out, often coming up with parts that would’ve been better if left out. That’s the most jarring thing about At the End of Times: it is so good when it is good that, when the going gets sucky, it becomes even more glaring.
Darkfall excel at the death part of their influences, and they deliver tasty, tasty slabs of hard-hitting, clenched-teeth, frenzied music solid riffing, great cymbal work, chaos solos, the works. But then there are parts like the intermittent hard-rock-like, arrhythmic passages of Your God is Dead that only serve to remind you how good it could’ve been. This is especially glaring on Ashes of the Gods. At 7 minutes, it’s the longest track on here, and it starts out great, but then falls apart completely near the mid-point. It could’ve been a great four minutes, but instead, it’s a barely-passable 7 minutes of disjointed parts playing at being a whole.
Another problem is that entire songs stop stone cold dead at parts, and go on for too long, often going on unrelated tangents that run them down. Check out Blutgott for it’s death and power influences that suddenly go off to I don’t know where. Or, look at Deathcult Debauchery that fails at going techy just as hard as it goes at it. This inability to edit songs for content seems to be a prevalent problem in At the End of Times. From softer, acoustic parts to protracted, completely unrelated outros, “symphonic” intros that go nowhere and don’t reappear anywhere again in songs, there’s a lot that distracts from the meat of songs.
Though its sins are many and the songwriting brings the album down, At the End of Times is still a record with potential, and like I said, when it is good, it is damn good. It’s a competent piece of work that tells you to keep an ear out for these guys. I’d say definitely check it out.
Sascha Ulm – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Stephan Stockreiter – Guitar
Thomas Spiwak – Lead Vocals
Markus Seethaler – Bass Guitar
Thomas Kern – Drums
01. Ride Through the Sky
02. The Breed of Death
03. The Way of Victory
04. Deathcult Debauchery
05. Ashes of Dead Gods
06. Your God is Dead
08. Welcome the Day You Die
09. Ash Nazg – One Ring
10. Land of No Return MMXVII