Dark Shades - _Hymnen an die Dunkelheit_
(Silbersack Recordings, 1999)
by: Matthias Noll (7 out of 10)
The first thing I saw from Dark Shades was a logo containing 666, inverted cross and pentagram. Being the untrue wimp that I am, I expected less than nothing worthwhile from their debut, which then turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Unlike the logo (probably an older one) suggests, Dark Shades do not play unholy, true, whateverraping black metal. I would describe their style as atmospheric black/death metal with very straightforward and simple song structures. The vocals alternate between grunts and rasps, the guitars riff away with touches of icy sharpness combined with German precision and the drumming is solid but not remarkable. Dark Shades do work with some acoustic guitar sections plus a fair amount of keyboards and that's my first point of criticism. The keyboard work is not very imaginative and reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir's _Enthrone Darkness Triumphant_, even if a bit less dominant. I do also feel that a higher dose of aggression and speed frenzy would have made _Hymnen an die Dunkelheit_ ("Hymns to Darkness") a better album. On the other hand, the atmosphere of songs like "Voice of Hastur" and "Messenger of Dark Gods" would have suffered from the inclusion of aggression for the sake of aggression. Dark Shades' controlled, somewhat typical German style is a good vehicle for some great guitar melody lines which after only a couple of spins I found myself unable to ban from my head. In my opinion that's quite an achievement in times that spawn one faceless record after another. Do not check this record out if you belong to the Marduk/Setherial legions. If you like your metal melodic and simple yet with death and black metal influences, _Hymnen an die Dunkelheit_ could be worth getting.

Contact: http://www.wischrop-net.de/dark_shades/

(article published 5/3/2000)

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