Melodic death/progressive thrashers Darkane are back with The Sinister Supremacy, their first album with new/old vocalist Lawrence Mackrory since their debut, Rusted Angel. It’s as good a fit now as it was back then. He can scream his lungs out and also sing with a great range, and it just really fits the music on this record.
There’s a moody, orchestral intro, “Sounds of Pre-Existence” before the title track smacks you upside the head and says “Let’s go! We have work to do!”, and that work is crushing skulls. First single “Mechanically Divine” is next and it is a doozy! This may be one of the best songs in the band’s entire catalog. Yeah…it’s THAT good. “Ostracized” has some great time changes, going from mid-tempo to speedy and back with ease, and is another strong track. Drummer Peter Wildoer is everywhere at once it seems, while staying locked in the pocket with bassist Jorgen Lofberg.
The orchestration is back for the beginning of “The Decline” before tearing into slow, chugging riffs from guitarists Klas Ideberg and Christofer Malmstrom that are equal parts aggression and melody, as is also evidenced on “Insurrection Is Imminent” with the latter taking off on a high speed chase at the 1:04 mark and then unleashing one of the best solos on the album. Mackrory’s vocals are outstanding for a couple of reasons: the aggression, and also his enunciation. You understand every word he says, even on the guttural growls.
The band members really seems to have grown as songwriters in the five years since their last album, Demonic Art. Not that their previous works were bad, quite the opposite. But songs like “In the Absence of Pain” and “Collapse of Illusions” show a level of sophistication previously unseen, and are my two favorites after the aforementioned “Mechanically Divine”. The chorus of “By Darkness Designed” is a complete departure from the thrash of the verses, and this push-pull makes the song yet another standout.
Album closer “Existence Is Just a State of Mind” dips its feet in the progressive waters while still maintaining its punch, and features some of the cleanest vocals on the album. There is no doubt in my mind that Darkane are a better band now for having gone through those years of changing singers, and I really feel that this is one of their best works to date.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Mechanically Divine”, “Insurrection Is Imminent”, “In the Absence of Pain”, “Collapse of Illusions”, “Existence Is Just a State of Mind”, “By Darkness Designed”