A while ago I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing the album Castellum by the French Black Metal act Darkenhöld. If memory serves, that proved to be quite an experience for me, since it not only had a very interesting approach to the genre as a whole (like many French bands these days, much to my glee), but they managed to combine this with extravagant tales of medieval fantasy, incorporating many of the aspects that both can and should make Power Metal bands interesting, at least lyrically; This they managed to do while still staying true to their roots and while remaining within their musical arena. Their newest rendition carries the title Memoria Sylvarum, and it marks their fourth full-length release, a mere three years after their previously mentioned record. In these years Darkenhöld have managed to expand upon their sound, making it more melodic and flowing, yet still being within the parameters that one would expect from them. This, in turn, has led Memoria Sylvarum to be a release that is very powerful and riddled with catchy guitar solos, yet never losing sight of its past and therefore still retaining much of what made Black Metal stand out all those years ago. When compared to Darkenhölds own previous releases, this newest addition seems to be a natural extension of the sound that the band has created in the past; Perhaps with a bit more experience and direction thrown into the mix. Of the eight tracks and single interlude present upon the record, I must confess to having a hard time choosing a favourite – All in all, it is forty-four exquisite minutes that I would recommend fans and interested alike to listen to in its entirety, in order. Mind you, this is not a concept album per sé (if only…), and the lyrics are in French, which will make Google Translate your friend if you are not a native speaker and, like me, have a weakness for understanding the lyrics. That aside, Darkenhöld is still a band that you can easily enjoy even if you do not understand the language – French is a very harmonious language, after all. If I had to pin-point a track from this album to highlight (which I feel that I must), then it would be the very last entrance on the roster, the one hiding behind the title “Présence des Orbes”; Simply because it is the longest track present on the entire release, as well as the final entry – The Magnum Opus from Memoria Sylvanum, if you stretch the definition a bit. So far, Darkenhöld seem to never disappoint, and I once again recommend their creation.
Recommended for fans of late Burzum and Varg.