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On disc: Dark End

Assassine - Mike Thompson - 8 stars


(Crash & Burn Records - 2010)

Italy has become something of a breeding ground for grandiose symphonic black metal and Dark End is yet another band that has been spawned from this Mediterranean gateway to Hell. I have to admit that I generally find Italian symphonic black metal difficult to listen to. Its usually not brutal enough to do justice to the black metal elements and too brutal to truly appreciate the symphonic parts. For me it exists in a musical limbo, so to speak, and it takes a special album to make me sit up and take note.
Assassine is Dark End's second full length, following in the tracks of 2006's Damned Woman And A Carcass. Musically the band do not present anything new for this genre of music with all of the usual Emperor and Dimmu Borgir influences there for all to hear. However, what Dark End do manage is to write a strong album which instantly hooks you and takes you on a captivating listening experience through the 'black metal opera' they have created.
Dark End take the theatricality of Cradle Of Filth and Theatres des Vampires and weave it effortlessly into a dark and memorable tale combined with outstanding musicianship. The keyboards in particular are varied and change form orchestral sections to funeral-like organs, all of which ensure you stay locked in the dark and terrifying world that Dark End create.
The weak points of this album for me are the vocals, which are really just your average symphonic black metal shrieks and nothing more, and also the song length which are at times over-long. That being said the longest song in the album, Two Faced Beast, is almost ten minutes long and certainly the highlight of the album.
I'd certainly put Dark End at the higher end of the Italian symphonic black metal crowd, they are certainly far more palatable than Stormlord. Assassine is a great album that I would highly recommend to any fans of this genre.

8 stars

Mike Thompson


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