Desolate Shrine – The Heart of the Netherword

So apparently the folks at Dark Descent Records (home of THANTIFAXATH, HORRENDOUS, & LVCIFYRE, among others) don’t want to give hapless metal scribes even a brief respite. Feels like we’re barely out of year-end review season (and into the new year) and they’ve already dropped yet another hands-down triumph. Hailing from the Nordic climbs of Helsinki, blackened death doom juggernaut DESOLATE SHRINE have unleashed a relentless maelstrom of evil with their third full-length release in four years, The Heart of The Netherworld.

Anchored by creative mastermind/multi-instrumentalist/visual artist L.L., along with vocalists R.S. (also of Dark Descent’s LIE IN RUINS) and M.L, The Heart of the Netherworld revels in the firmly established Dark Descent formula of gruesome death/black metal that merges critic-friendly creative ambition with extreme headbangability. Intense, arresting tracks like  ‘Leviathan’ and the title cut drown the listener in an unrelenting deluge of tenebrous Finnish DM. This flood of sheer intensity is buoyed by subtle progressive elements (check the real horrorshow piano intro to ‘We Dawn Anew’), intuitive, dynamic arrangements and sneaky tempo changes throughout.

These slightly off-kilter moments, along with strong production values perfectly balance queasy atmosphere with unrestrained aggression, helping to provide the momentum that lifts The Heart of the Netherworld well above an increasingly indistinguishable (and oversaturated) OSDM throwback fray. An ephemeral, discombobulating 60-minute journey into the dark, oozing void beyond this mortal coil, DESOLATE SHRINE have boldly asserted their claim to the distinguished Finnish DM legacy. With sonic dispatches this solid, one is hard pressed to deny them the right.

Matthew Elliot is a political and music writer, editor, and social media hooligan from London, ON. A lifelong, obsessive metal fanatic, he tries not to take the third person too seriously. Tries. Send promo blasts to: [email protected].