Darkspace - _I_ / _II_
(Avantgarde Music, 2006)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (7.5 and 9 out of 10)
Darkspace is a trio from Switzerland that started with chaotic black metal, evolving to a mix of ambient and black devastation that is rarely found anywhere else. Originally released in 2003 and 2005 respectively by Haunter of the Dark and now sold out, Darkspace's _I_ and _II_ are now picked up by Avantgarde Music and reissued in gorgeous, if a bit minimalistic, card covered packages. Not having heard the original releases (actually, not even being aware of the existence of this band), I was extremely surprised to find someone who can do ambient black metal in such a way that it does not sound pretentious, succeeding in creating atmosphere and not becoming boring.

_I_ is much more straightforward old-school black metal, depending on fuzzy guitars backdrops, low density pummelling drums and amazingly dark growling vocals that are mixed as if they are yet another instrument, filling in the background rather than being in your face. Imagine Emperor's _Into the Nightside Eclipse_ and then some. The keys are ever present, just licking the music and creating ambience. There is some variation in pace, but the album generally stays in a very fast gear, only occasionally taking it down to mid-paced levels.

In _II_ things get a lot more interesting. Comprised of only three tracks, Darkspace take things further into the ambient and atmospheric territory, utilizing minimalistic keys and looping guitar themes. There is a lot more breathing space, especially when they turn completely ambient; yet when they crank up the electricity, things get deliciously suffocating. They make use of more clean vocals, which sound like incantations, and the screaming vocals are simply out of this world. In the first song, the main clean guitar solo-that-is-not-a-solo reminds me a bit of Pain of Salvation, yet the two sounds could not have been further apart. I could do without the second track, which is completely ambient, but that does not mean it is a bad song -- I am just too fond of the other two tracks that switch between the two genres.

In both albums, all the songs are named "Dark", with the addition of the album and track number, as in "Dark 1.5" and "Dark 2.8" (the second number continues counting the total tracks of all albums), which I find elegant and fittingly mysterious, especially for a band that only presents its music and nothing else. No faces, no lyrics, hardly even any imagery except for darkness. Dark space indeed. I find it pointless to try to paint any more stains on these two albums with my words, as the band have done so much to keep the listener concentrated in their musical art. If you love darkness, you could do a lot worse than losing yourselves in Darkspace.

(article published 15/11/2006)


ALBUMS
7/2/2008 K Sarampalis 9.5 Darkspace - III
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