Label: Pagan Records
It’s been a long time since Polish band Mordor last released anything – 21 years, in fact. The band originally disbanded in 2000, but reunited in 2014 and have now unleashed new album Darkness… upon the world. Given the differences between previous albums Prayer To… and The Earth, fans might be unsure what to expect from Darkness… Perhaps surprisingly, the new album is the one that has the greatest sense of character and confidence, recalling their early death/doom roots whilst also adding hints of black metal to the mix. It’s an atmospheric, captivating record, and a very welcome return for this veteran band.
The opening track of Darkness… is perhaps the weakest. ‘Darkness Falls’ has a sense of bombast and pomp that draws as much from epic power metal as it does doom, with its keyboard lines and chorus that might recall the band’s namesake, but the images it conjures are more of Dungeons & Dragons rather than world-ending darkness. That said, it’s still a decent song, with some riffs that practically demand head-banging, but it’s a misleading opener that never quite creates the flow it is aiming to, and things improve as the album progresses. Following track ‘L.U.C.I.F.E.R’ is a perfect demonstration of where Mordor are at in 2018, with frostbitten black metal melodies from the second guitar and keyboards complimenting crushing doom metal riffs. It’s on this song that Mordor begin to demonstrate exactly what they’re capable of, as it creates the kind of atmosphere they were aiming for with the opener, and the mix of death-doom and Polish black metal is incredibly effective.
It’s this mix of death-doom and Polish black metal that characterises the sound of Darkness…, with the album combining the best of both styles. The emotional, melancholic aspects of modern Polish black metal are brought to the fore with many of the guitar leads, melodies, and more mid-paced riffs; whilst the death-doom comes to the fore when the band slow things down. As this implies, Darkness… is a very dynamic album, with each of the six songs having plenty of time to explore different textures and tempos. The band even experiment with a few industrial flourishes on ‘Incalculable Sadness’, which actually works pretty well.
On the whole, Darkness… feels like the album where Mordor have really come in to their own, hitting upon a sound and style that is fairly novel without moving away from the core of their chosen style. It feels less in thrall to their influences than their previous albums did, and as such it is the album that has the strongest sense of character and identity – as well as some incredibly strong songs. It’s quite rare for a comeback album to feel like a definitive statement, but that’s exactly the case with Darkness…, making this album something of a surprise, but an undoubtedly pleasant one – well, as pleasant as death-doom can be, anyway!