Though they started as an unusually aggressive melodic death/doom band in the early 2000’s Gathering Darkness made a clear and brutally slamming shift towards the brutal death blast of bands like Avulsed and Fleshgrind by their 2005 debut full-length ‘Beholders of the Pain Planet’. If you’re a demo collector and you like death/doom, you might find some cool melodic moments on their first two demos but the (sorta) awkward gothic vocal experiments make a great case for the band’s shift to brutality for their first album. Their style of brutal death metal back in 2005 was somewhere in between the Unique Leader releases of the time and had hints of Exmortem‘s ‘Pestilence Empire’ and it’s rhythmic intelligence that was slightly more listenable than your average hurried chugging and guttural brutal death of the era.
Beyond that first album the band’s releases have been few and somewhat far between without a ton of enthusiasm. It surprises me because their urgent death metal sound has evolved in good taste over the last decade. Their 2009 EP ‘Desolation’ hinted that they’d been listening to Nile a bit and they’d kept up with the ‘standards’ of brutal death at that point moving past overly chugging compositions. Their split with Tyrant’s Blood in 2014 with a new guitarist had obscured, gloomy production and some new lead guitar prowess that was missing from previous releases. Now on this second full-length in 2017 Gathering Darkness’ sound is closer to old school Vital Remains‘ ‘Forever Underground’ in it’s old school, semi-brutal death metal style. It is easily their best release to date with a modern and dynamic production sound and excellent guitar work, yet it still sounds like the same band that recorded ‘Beholders of the Pain Planet’ back in 2005.
Don’t expect any post-metal, death/doom, or anything more than a soft nod to melodic death metal here. Gathering Darkness is still an uncompromising death metal band that focus on violence and darkness of old school death metal for their core sound. The opener “Infernus Terra Est” and follow-up “A World Within Us (A Post Human World) are notable for some black metal-ish almost old school Necrophobic riffing and a drummer that functions as a sort of brutal version of Bill Steer across the board. By the time “The Nihilist Manifest” hits you’ve heard all of their tricks and influences, as a result the final few songs feel padded out a bit. Even if ‘The Heat of a Dying Sun’ isn’t groundbreaking or anything particularly new, it is an incredibly refined and dynamic death metal album that doesn’t overburden the listener with the density of their ideas. At about 35 minutes it is a quick and professional blast of thoughtful death metal guitar work, barrel chested growls and a solid drum performance that escapes past doldrums of brutal death metal entirely.
|Released||March 22, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Gathering Darkness on Facebook|
Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal
Surrounded by the spectral cold. 3.5/5.0
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