Review: Dark Millennium “Ashore the Celestial Burden” [Massacre Records]

Review: Dark Millennium “Ashore the Celestial Burden” [Massacre Records]

- in Reviews
Score 93%
To enter the realm beyond
93 %
User Rating : 4.2 (2 votes)

Sometimes you stumble upon a unique band that that figuring out their obvious influences results in a massive headache. Enter Dark Millennium, who are a complete oddball of a band and If I were to compare them to any band, actual later ones like Sadness and Procreation of the Inner Temple-era The Chasm are far the most realistic points of references here, as they share the same gloom and mystique.

One could argue that doom/death metal has always been an experimental genre to begin with, but Dark Millennium really experimented to a point that describing them as a plain doom/death metal band wouldn’t do them justice. To begin with Ashore the Celestial Burden is clearly a progressive album, yet unlike its successor it never turns into something progressive for progressive’s sake. You’ll still find plenty of death metal riffs here though, yet I couldn’t imagine anyone calling this a death metal with doom-y overtones, either; while the fastest riffs vaguely feel connected to the ordinary tremolo attack of Obituary, the result is just something far more bizarre. Don’t expect any personal melancholia or tales of old here, though. This is also where Dark Millennium differentiate from most doom/death metal bands and like a higher pitched thrash-yeller doing his best John Tardy impression, Christian Mertens introduces you to their own world on “Below the Holy Fatherlands”. From there on it’s as if Dark Millennium welcome you to into an esoteric realm soul-searching blokes (not to be confused with self-help junkies) look for.

The real magic of Ashore the Celestial Burden lies in its near-perfect songwriting craft that’s full of unexpected maneuvers and atmospheric brilliance. The first two songs consist of whirlwind-y riffing and present the more furious side of the record, yet it doesn’t take long before the band’s true nature gets revealed. “Black Literature” sees Dark Millennium dances the strangest dance, yet from the doom-laden opening to the venomous chorus shouts, each move made still manages to make perfect sense. At its most progressive, the band comes up with the most pleasant surprise, be it a tasty flamenco guitar passage between the violent riff-craft in “Inside the Sunburnt Thoughts of Frost” or an ambient-break in the aptly titled “The Atmosphere”. The latter overwhelmingly opens up with an ominous riff setting the tone of the track and while it doesn’t dominantly overpower the listener with full fury and force, it’s nonetheless the most emotionally provocative and exhausting song you’ll find here; as if listening too often to this track in the wrong state of mind would make you question your own existence with all the negative consequences to boot. Even at its most referential Ashore the Celestial Burden seems to refer to some rather unexpected sources. Take the contrastive freak show of “Beyond the Dragon’s Eye” for instance – which partially sounds as if you’d stumble upon Soulside Journey-era Darkthrone’s progressive death metal riffs in a more avant-garde setting.

While Dark Millennium takes you on an evocative trip, only “Medina’s Spell” is the only track that doesn’t win me exactly over. With a chugging start, it doesn’t take long before it turns into yet another blistering track that sees the band going for the attack, but to no avail it’s just out of place when compared to its surrounding unorthodox tracks that dominate most of Ashore the Celestial Burden. Regardless, this album has to be one of the most essential, if sadly underrated doom/death metal albums of all time. It just stinks that nothing the band has come up afterwards comes close to this (or let alone even sounds enjoyable – but we’ll save that for another review perhaps).

Release date: October 21st, 1992

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About the author

I have been listening to metal since the age of... 14 or so. Besides music, I'm also interested in boxing, fitness, meeting new people and enjoy reading about a variety of topics.

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