After 23 years of silence, Finnish cult black/epic metallers DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED, who feature in their ranks NIGHTWISH keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, are making their long-awaited comeback with a new full-length album, “Angel Of Carnage Unleashed”, to be released on November 12 via Napalm Records. The LP sets free a unique blend of brutal, fast-driven black metal and epic anthems in which eerie screams merge with heroic clean vocals, monumental choirs and majestic keyboards along with gory stories of famine, war, plague and the inescapable brutality of Finland’s nature in the era of the Great Northern War (1700-1721). It features the old horde from the original 1993 lineup, now augmented by Holopainen as a full member of the band and Kai Hahto (also of NIGHTWISH) as session drummer.
The record’s final song, “Black Fog And Poison Wind”, offers an appropriate, hard-hitting and thunderous ending to the album. The track, which can be streamed below, features mad, high-pitched screams, evil riffing, mind-blowing blastbeats and eerie choirs.
DARWOODS MY BETROTHED on their new single: “This is one of our favourite songs from the new album. Lyrically, it tells the story of the so-called ‘Death March of the Carolinians’ where 3000 soldiers of the Swedish army froze to death when withdrawing from Norway across the fells in the winter of 1718. We chose to approach this topic from an anthropomorphic perspective: the storyteller is the poisonous icy wind which — in the service of the Angel of Carnage — mercilessly murdered the soldiers in the snowy mountains. The story is accompanied with a black metal anthem that combines brutal blastbeat-driven passages with slower and melodic eerie parts featuring choirs and female vocals. We feel that the song captures the atmosphere of the lyric perfectly.”
The new full-length contains eight songs written by the three musicians who founded the band in 1993: Pasi Kankkunen, Jouni Mikkonen and Teemu Kautonen (with substantial creative inputs from Holopainen). The lyrics are based on the human history of the Great Northern War of 1700-1721: how Finns experienced the many manifestations of the Angel of Carnage, sent by God to punish them for their sins.
Bassist Teemu Kautonen on the album: “The lyrics are based on the work of the renowned Finnish historian Teemu Keskisarja. His research inspired us both to carefully embed all lyrics in the appropriate historical context and to bring forth the human dimension by focusing on stories of individual people and how they experienced this perhaps darkest period of Finnish history.”
Vocalist/guitarist Pasi Kankkunen adds: “It was very important for us to have the original lineup on the comeback album. We also agreed right at the beginning of the process to share the songwriting in equal proportions — just as we did on the 1996 classic album ‘Autumn Roars Thunder’.”
The album opener “Name The Dead” sets off with atmospheric organ tunes but leaves no scope for weakness, as only a few seconds later storming drums, aggressive riffs and raging growls set the stage for everything that is about to come: brutal soundscapes spliced with epic accents! The second track, “In Evil, Sickness And In Grief”, pierces through the core with a poisoning vocal attack and contrasting operatic female background layers. “Murktide And Midnight Sun” marks folk and Viking reminiscence with its clean and catchy vocal presentation, grand choirs and mystic atmosphere, followed by the heavily stomping “You Bitter Source of Sorrow” and “Where We Dwell” with its haunting, all-consuming keyboard passages. “In Thrall to Ironskull’s Heart” showcases the multifaceted character of DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED with an almost balladic start, which evolves into an uptempo, epic journey into the Battle of Napue (1714). The title of the penultimate track “Massacre” conveys the track’s musical direction with precision: expect in-your-face blastbeats and gory lyrics. The final song, “Black Fog And Poison Wind”, unleashes a sonic monster once more, combining aggression, haunting soundscapes and evil melodies, before “Angel Of Carnage Unleashed” ends with the tunes of a soundtrack-like outro.
“Angel Of Carnage Unleashed” track listing:
01. Name The Dead
02. In Evil, Sickness And In Grief
03. Murktide And Midnight Sun
04. You Bitter Source Of Sorrow
05. Where We Dwell
06. In Thrall To Ironskull’s Heart
08. Black Fog And Poison Wind
DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED is:
Pasi Kankkunen – vocals, guitar
Jouni Mikkonen – guitar
Teemu Kautonen – bass, backing vocals
Tuomas Holopainen – keyboards
Kai Hahto – drums (session)
Photo credit: Antti Ilvonen