Fallen Angel's Dominion

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Into The Realm Of Thousand Deaths
02. Night Eternal
03. Fallen Angels Dominion
04. Frozen Kingdom
05. Everlasting Fire
06. Spirit Of The Night
07. Legions Of Darkness
08. In Silence We Eternally Sleep
09. The Somberlain

Any sense of surprise felt by yours truly at the songwriting acumen displayed on "Fallen Angel's Dominion" by Germany's THULCANDRA dissipated immediately upon realizing that vocalist/guitarist Steffen Kummerer was involved. The man's immense talent was obvious from his work in OBSCURA, but this DISSECTION-inspired (literally) debut album leaves no doubt as to the vastness of his compositional resource reserves. Though it is heartbreaking to read about co-founder Juergen Zintz's suicide the year following the release of the first demo, Kummerer, guitarist Sebastian Ludwig and bassist Tobias Ludwig (both of HELFAHRT),and session drummer Seraph (DARK FORTRESS) can be rightfully proud of this most fitting tribute to a fallen comrade.

"Fallen Angel's Dominion" is that rare album that admittedly pays tribute to a legendary act without sounding like a covers album. Realizing that reinvention is the exception, not the rule in metal should at least temporarily silence the barking dogs, as THULCANDRA do blackened/melodic death metal better than most, DISSECTION influence or no DISSECTION influence. Kummerer's creaky, easily understood growls and the DM power-drive that complements the brilliantly melodic guitar work (rather than one overpowering the other) collectively result in an album's worth of stylistically similar, yet distinctly memorable songs, which includes the icy serenity of short piano piece "In Silence we Eternally Sleep". The majesty of the melodies on songs like "Frozen Kingdom" and "Everlasting Fire" stick to the gray matter like glue, yet unlike many bands attempting a similar approach, the DM heaviness is never lost in the process. Forsaking one for the other can result in a frustrating thinness of delivery and sound. The brief acoustic moments add a touch of class and the attention to detail, as exemplified by the neck-hair straightening bass lines during "Night Eternal", get more miles to the gallon out of the disc. The only relevant question regarding the cover of DISSECTION's "The Somberlain" would then be "Why the hell not?"

"Fallen Angel's Dominion" is one of those albums where thoughts concerning the obviousness of the influence are soon replaced with a purity of appreciation for the songwriting and musicianship. Granted, THULCANDRA wouldn't exist in its presence form without said influence; but subsequent to complete immersion in "Fallen Angel's Dominion", a shit most listeners would cease to give. With all due recognition of and respect to the legion of drooling DISSECTON worshippers, I find THULCANDRA to go beyond doing the style justice; they've made it more memorable on "Fallen Angel's Dominion". It would be foolish to deny DISSECTION props for originating such a masterfully melodic sound that black and death metal bands too numerous to count have replicated. But it would be criminal to withhold accolades from THULCANDRA for embracing that style and, ceteris paribus, making it more potent. Put another way, "Fallen Angel's Dominion" is on the near side of magnificent. Let the chips fall where they may; it is but a mere preference unfiltered by nostalgia.

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