Saturday, October 20, 2012

Music Review: Departure Chandelier- "The Black Crest of Death, The Gold Wreath of War" Demo Cassette

This is a special review for me. While I've always been a huge fan of black metal, I was a relatively casual listener for the past number of years due to my own lack of time spent on the internet. Without any friends who were actively into the music and no resources for finding new bands or record labels, I didn't have much of an opportunity to discover new music or support the underground community. About a year ago, I finally got a laptop computer and started socializing with some folks who shared exciting new music with me. One of my friends tipped me off to a fantastic (and now defunct) blog called Filth and Misanthropy, which introduced me to many of the groups I've been enjoying for the past year of my life. The very first post on that blog was a link to this cassette. While I was instantly drawn to it, it took me a good long while to find a seller based in the United States (as I try to avoid paying international shipping rate). Now that I have it in my collection, I figure it's time for me to share a band that helped me remember why I started loving black metal in the first place.

Departure Chandelier are a purposefully mysterious group. In keeping with black metal tradition, the pseudonyms given for the musicians leave little hint as to the actual identities of the members. According to their page on the Encyclopedia Metallum, they've got members of Ash Pool and Akitsa, which should instantly tell you the high quality black metal contained in this tape. Presented here are two tracks of perfectly executed atmospheric black metal with ominous ambient pieces serving as bookends to this excellent demo. While some bands' production level is simply lower as a matter of cost, the murky production on this album serves to add a foggy beauty to the captivating music created here. Given the high production standards of the aforementioned Ash Pool, it's quite obvious that this is an intentional artistic choice, and it serves this piece of art quite nicely. Preceded an ominous drone of bells, the title track is one of the most addictive black metal pieces I've ever heard, with certain passages equally memorable as any riff from the legendary second wave black metal groups. It opens with haunting keyboards and jagged guitars that call to mind a slower-paced version of In the Nightside Eclipse-era Emperor. That's a huge claim to make, I'm aware, but this totally capture the same sense of awe I felt when I first heard that album. The harsh production and the simple yet gorgeous music perfectly sum up what drew me into black metal: the beauty behind the chaos. If you're a bit patient, one of the catchiest keyboard lines I've heard pops up around six minutes in. I'm a sucker for a great melody, and these guys definitely deliver. The third track (and second full song), "Consecrating the Flame of Resistance," is equally brilliant. It's a bit more aggressive and faster paced, but still has some incredibly wonderful melodic moments as well. While two tracks is a bit short for an album, this demo clocks in at just under twenty minutes and is the perfect introduction to an amazing band.

This album as a whole is both challenging and enticing. This isn't the most confrontational or aggressive album I've heard, but it's one of the most palatable cassettes to join my collection in quite some time. It appears their label, Tour De Garde, still has some copies available. Both the music and packaging are top notch here. I got mine through discogs, so I missed out on the awesome Tour De Garde sticker that this album typically comes with. Grab a copy fast, as I'm not sure how many are left. This album's been out for over a year and I can't imagine they're going to last forever.

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