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The Sinister Supremacy

Massacre (2013)
Rating: 8/10

Darkane, one of melodic death metal’s best kept secrets since 1999, return with their sixth studio album, The Sinister Supremacy. After falling into a bit of a lull with 2008’s Demonic Art, the Swedish band continued to tour before losing vocalist Jens Broman in 2011. Much to every fans’ surprise, vocalist Lawrence Mackrory returned to the fold for The Sinister Supremacy. Mackrory is best known as the band’s “original” vocalist (Soilwork’s Björn “Speed” Strid technically preceded him but never appeared on a Darkane recording), recording only their debut album, 1999’s Rusted Angel, before leaving the group.

Five years have passed since the last Darkane album and over a decade has passed since we last heard Mackrory fronting the band. Much has changed in this time, particularly the band’s sound becoming more progressive over the years. Fortunately for all involved, Mackrory has turned into a much better vocalist during the time in-between and the new music suits his voice well. The pace here is much faster than on the last few albums and, in that respect, the band were certainly keeping Rusted Angel in mind.

It seems that the time off has had a significant impact on the band. This whole tracklist is full of energy and, honestly, puts Layers Of Lies (2005) and Demonic Art to shame. ‘By Darkness Designed’ and ‘Ostracized’ are absolute beasts, full of speed demon drumming, possessed vocals dancing angrily amidst grunts and semi-clean sections, and huge guitars that have the tones associated with the golden years of melodic death metal but the pissiness of the oft overlooked metalcore movement. The band haven’t moved this fast in years! On the flipside though, songs like ‘In The Absence Of Pain’ and ‘Humanity Defined’ have the technical prowess of Expanding Senses (2002) without losing any of the rediscovered energetic brutality.

The title track though is the creature I find most endearing. While it starts out at a breakneck speed, obviously setting the tone for the album, it features a huge sing-along style chorus that would make Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) proud. The song is fascinating as it is, in part, the most brutal song on the album and also, in part, the most accessible song on the album. ‘Collapse Of Illusions’ and ‘The Decline’ follow a similar format but never manage to reach the same heights as the title track in my opinion.

The negatives here are fairly minimal. Like any melodic death metal band, the style can wear on you a bit after a dozen songs. It’s hard to keep momentum throughout and on repeated listens you’ll definitely find yourself skipping to your favourite tracks instead of listening from start to finish. The album gets disrupted twice as well with two instrumentals in ‘Sounds Of Pre-Existence’ (which opens the album) and the piano led, symphonically-riddled, ‘Hate Repentance State’. While I understand why bands do this, it’s just not my thing and I feel it takes a good bit of the brutality out of an album that is staking its claim on that style.

Overall, this is a very, very good Darkane album. Easily their best since Expanding Senses and if you prefer their older work then it will probably top that one for you as well. Mackrory’s vocals are a big part of why this sounds so good as he is tremendously dynamic here without losing any of the punch he showed on Rusted Angel. Not too bad for 14 years later.

Mark Fisher

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