I just recently discovered Slovakia natives Darktimes while surfing through YouTube. What struck me off the top was their brand of black metal was cold, grim, and loaded with atmosphere but it did not sound like it was recorded in an old tin can. In fact, the production on their sophomore effort, Utter Coldness, is quite clean and makes for a really nice listening experience. The band has only been around since 2013; they are completely self financed and release their albums independently so I was quite impressed with the professional recording job on the album. But what stood out was the songs. Yes, the songs are cold and grim but what we really have here is a well thought out album that has many layers to it.
After the brief intro, “Black Flame Prophet” ferociously bursts from your speakers. The song is the perfect album opener full of energy, brutality, and serious riffs. This band makes really good use of tremolo picking and their tremolo leads add that element of melody into the mix. The tempo is not all blasts but instead they mix it up to include a lot of traditional metal elements. The vocals are not a continuous high raspy shriek but more of a controlled deeper growl even going guttural at times. “Awakening – Towards the Perpetual Eclipse” is one of the best and most complex on the album. Starting out blasting and ferocious they throw in this cool tremolo lead riff that adds the melody slows it down a bit just to go right for the throat again. Once again, their use of the tremolos leads add that right atmosphere.
“Waters of Infinite Horizons” is one of those songs that adds that traditional metal tempo in the beginning only to flow into these melodic tremolos. This song is where the band kind of reminds me of Old Man’s Child in how they add the melodies in without losing the ferocious atmosphere created by the riffs. “Where Darkness Resides” is a little over seven and a half minutes of sheer black metal grimness. This song takes a more epic turn loaded with brutality, melody and atmosphere. The song slows a bit towards the end and actually makes for a somewhat awkward flow into, “Noci večnej chlad, ” which is a slower, more eerie sounding instrumental that closes the album out.
Nothing makes my metal heart happier than to discover great metal and my discovery of Darktimes is one of those moments. As the weather tuns cold and grim during the winter months, I love good black metal that can add to the atmosphere created by nature. Utter Coldness is a welcome addition to my winter black metal playlist.