The year is 2010. Mankind is under threat. A dark power that reared its head in the scorching summer of 2005 AD is now preparing for its final attack on the world. Only the chosen warrior can save mankind.
Who is this chosen warrior? Well, that is not important. What is important is that 2010 AD is definitely the year that Demonic Resurrection, one of India's longest-lasting and most indefatigable metal bands conquers the world. 4 years after they released their 2nd full-length album 'A Darkness Descends', comes the 3rd part of the Darkness trilogy, 'The Return to Darkness' (the 2nd was their EP 'Beyond the Darkness'). Released (as usual) by vocalist/guitarist Sahil Makhija's own Demonstealer Records, this album has 'breakthrough' permanently tattoed all over it.
The band has gone through an art makeover courtesy of Polish designer/animator Machael 'Xaay' Loranc (of Nile, Behemoth, Necrophagist and Vader fame) who has delivered a very European look for the band's new logo. The front cover art is a craftily designed fisheye of a cityscape under siege from a group of very skeletal yet plasmic entities released by a celestial vortex. The CD itself was released as a box set containing a well-designed t-shirt, a pair of guitar plectra (one of which I've already lost), a sticker and a band poster; the last 3 items being snugly packaged within a solid cardboard 'jewel case'. The band has gone through a few lineup changes as well with new drummer Virendra Kaith and a solid lead guitarist in the form of Daniel Rego as the latest acquisitions.
The biggest difference though, is the sound of the band's music itself. The album opens with the a digitized, muffled wail loop that is soon joined by a violin chorus à la keyboard player Mephisto, who then proceeds to add a percussive bass beat. This now full-blown orchestral crescendo is called 'Between Infinity and Oblivion'. A truly epic herald of more musical greatness. The next track now cracks open- 'Where Dream and Darkness Unite'. The band's wondrous ESP strings and Mapex drum kit literally blast into a tune that reminds one of Dimmu Borgir's 'Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny', except the presence of orchestral keys and very well-polished death growl strike a different epic nerve in the listener's body.
This album, like this song, is a highlight of the evolution that the band has gone through musically. In essence, nothing has changed in terms of how they define their music; a mix of black, death and power metal. But while previous releases saw a more-or-less disjointed exhibition of the 3 genres, this album sees the band dissecting each genre and bringing out exactly what they do to the brain of the listener. And it doesn't stop there. They combine the mood of one genre with the exterior playing style of another. This has resulted in the band taking an overall symphonic path which only seems natural as symphonies cater to both the dark and light side of human emotion.
The whole album is a highly dynamic one. There are a lot more changes in time signature, beat patterns, vocal style and the intent behind the emotion ins a song section. Unlike on its predecessor, the band has not really aimed solely at creating an extreme sound. In fact, the great thing about this album for me is how emotionally driven it is. The dynamic nature of it has been achieved solely due to to this very fact. This has led to a lot of innovation in the sound of the band. 'A Tragedy Befallen' has a very power metal sound throughout, even though its brought out through harsh vocals for the most part. In fact, some sections seem to strike the same emotional chord as later Kamelot albums. 'Bound by Blood,Fire and Stone' sees a brilliantly executed section where a blast beat battery fuses eclectically with a digitized whisper which in turn is synchronized with a crafty channel interpolation of a series of triple-picked duets on the strings. To top it all is a beat-synchronized ambient flourish from the keys.
Every great album has a landmark track. Without a doubt its 'Lord of Pestilence' on this one. The intro is a look back at one of their signature tracks of yesteryears 'Frozen Portrait'. It features a similar flanger-drenched clean guitar intro expect this one is not just a happy tune. It goes on for about 3 minutes of an emotional roller coaster ride before blasting into a blast beat driven section. The rest of the 8 and a half minutes of this track makes the listener feel like he is sitting through a sci-fi fantasy movie. There is conflict, there is resolution, there are twists and there are emotional beats.
The album ends with 'Omega,I', a perfect closing tune for a brilliant epic. The continuity throughout the album is quite fulfilling. So is its overall duration. Every song seems related to every other both on a musical and lyrical scale (of which the latter I find secondary compared to the former in importance). Despite the huge length of most of the songs, there is never a dull moment in the album. In fact, if any of the songs were shorter I believe it would have been a cause for concern. The musicians have all grown to huge levels on this album and the new inclusions should not go away to soon, especially drummer Virendra Kaith.
And so, the Darkness trilogy comes to an end. The warrior has emerged victorious over the dark power. But the real world metal scene will now witness an inevitable rise of a new power: prepare your legions for India's own Demonic Resurrection.