I write this review in a cave so that once it gets posted, those who take insult won’t be able to find me. I’m kidding, of course, so bite me: What is the point of singing if you can’t be understood? And please, don’t give me the “it’s just because you’re not used to it” bullshit. If your vocals have a likeness to a giant hog growling as rolls down a hill, then no it has nothing to do with “not being used to it.” I might just be getting old (doubt it), but these types of vocals, as found in Orphalis, just don’t do it for me. Now, obviously there is a huge crowd that goes bat-shit crazy for this type of brutal music and I say power to them. As long as you’re doing what you love and people vibe with it, then you’re doing something right. But since The Approaching Darkness is as brutal as they come, I might as well write this up with a knife.
Right from the first track “Aeons of Destruction,” I knew I was in for a ride. The track explodes in your face, melting your skin and blowing up your eardrums. They call it Technical Death Metal and I would definitely classify this German band as Death Metal, but all the technicalities of any instrument are lost. The guitar playing of both Jens (who also does vocals with Thomas) and Morten is often overpowered by the overall sound. You can hear the licks and the solos are definitely impressive, but when the vocals kick in and the double bass drums start going 200km/h, it just all becomes a melting pot of noise. Most of the songs on this record suffer for the same reason. Unfortunately, the dual vocals don’t add as much variety as they should, considering how both are of the screaming type, only one is a growl and the other is more of a higher scream. Again, I know that this is the point of this music. The audience wants to feel assaulted by the music, they want to feel the rage boil through their veins. I don’t doubt for a second that a show with these guys must be the wildest thing ever.
Ignoring my problem with the vocals and constant use of unoriginal riffs, “Forging an Entity” is my favourite song of this record. The song had a rhythm and the intensity was toned down a little, making it easier to follow the instruments. It remained brutal and evil, but I was able to appreciate the music more because I was able to follow the path placed before me, instead of constructing a maze of musical mayhem.
At the end of the day, my problem with this album stems more from genre tropes than the actual musicians. I doubt not the skill it takes to construct an album of this amplitude, but it lacks any soul. As always, this album didn’t do it for me, but maybe it will for you. I encourage everyone to check out The Approaching Darkness and support the music!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy