Album review: Darkwoods My Betrothed – Angel Of Carnage Unleashed

Black metal pioneers Darkwoods My Betrothed complete comeback album Angel Of Carnage Unleashed – thanks to some unlikely help from Nightwish...

Album review: Darkwoods My Betrothed – Angel Of Carnage Unleashed
Steve Beebee

You know the Old Gods must be getting pretty riled when an Odin-obsessed Finnish black metal act decides to creak into action for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century. Darkwoods My Betrothed, noted for their ability to combine blackened, fried-to-a-crisp riffs with Viking rhythms and chants during a brief, three-album tenure in the 1990s, were also notable for including a young Tuomas Holopainen in their ranks. The Nightwish keyboard player and all-round musical visionary performed with this infinitely darker outfit – who hail from his hometown of Kitee – as a sessionist; but what’s even more remarkable is that he’s now back, and he’s brought Nightwish drummer Kai Hahto with him.

Befitting their elaborate name, the rejuvenated Darkwoods My Betrothed perform metal imbued with Nordic frost. While Massacre is a furnace of blastbeats and bile, Hahto in particular sounding more like machine than man, there are shades of the symphonic elsewhere, grey slants of keyboards adding wintry soundscapes. The album is inspired by the Great Northern War of 1700 to 1721, and in particular the horrors endured by both Finnish soldiers and civilians. The acidic In Evil, Sickness And In Grief is as staunch an anti-war song as you’ll find, unflinching in part, but melody-driven and sorrowful in spirit. Johanna Kurkela, Tuomas’ wife and bandmate in prog-folk side project Auri, provides deep, emotive contrast to Pasi Kankkunen’s needle-sharp screams.

In Thrall To Ironskull’s Heart showcases this weird union’s wide vision – led, it seems natural to assume, by Holopainen’s adventurous musical mind. Elsewhere many of the songs would have been more powerful had they been culled by about two minutes each – there are times when things become repetitious, the same lengths swum. One thing’s for sure though, this hibernating heart of darkness has been well and truly revived – and winter is coming.

Verdict: 3/5

Fo Fans Of: Dimmu Borgir, Paradise Lost, Wolfheart

Angel Of Carnage Unleashed is out on November 12 via Napalm.

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