REVIEW: DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED – “Angel of Carnage Unleashed”


by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

Finnish black metallers emerge from the darkness after twenty-three years of silence with their highly anticipated and long overdue fourth album ‘Angel Of Carnage Unleashed’. Forged in 1993, Darkwoods My Bethrothed quickly gained a following with their 1995 debut ‘Heirs of the Northstar’, followed by the sophomore album ‘Autumn Roars Thunder’ (1996) and its sequel ‘Witch-Hunts’s (1998). 2021 sees their mighty return with their new offering and the addition of Tuomas Holopainen on keyboards as a full member and Kai Hahto as a session drummer, both of whom reside in symphonic metal act Nightwish.

The lyrics are based on the human history of the Great Northern War of 1700-1721 and detail the gory stories of famine, war, plague and the inescapable brutality of Finland’s nature. Their unique blend of brutal rapid-fire black metal anthems and sublime keyboards is the perfect embodiment of this.

The first track unveiled, ’Name The Dead’, starts with church organs before the savagery begins with blistering fast instruments and demonic screams. The dark ambience and atmosphere created by the keys and epic soaring guitars make for a deadly combination and impressive initial offering after such a long wait.

‘In Evil, Sickness and in Grief’ is agile and cunningly crafted; creepy haunting keys and contrasting operatic female backing vocals add extra depth to the already brimming evil concoction. One of the shortest songs, ’Murktide and Midnight Sun’, offers a slower pace and adds more diversity whilst remaining ambitious with melodic clean solid vocals and effective group chants.

‘You Bitter Source of Sorrow’ is immediately crushing with striking and purposeful guitars and instrumentation. The vast ambience is all-consuming.  ‘Where We Dwell’ offers a playful melodic keyboard intro that is welcome with blazing accompanying instruments to keep the momentum and balance in a harmonious state.

‘In Thrall to Ironskull’s Heart’ features a charming, serene intro and clean vocals, but the heaviness seeps in with charging riffs after two minutes. It is a step back from their full-on aggressive approach and shows they can deliver on both ends of beauty and brutality.

The lethal ‘Massacre’ is memorable with erratic keys starting this off and soaring guitars; the crazed frantic mood is present throughout from the anguished cries to the instrumental composition. The penultimate song ‘Black Fog and Poison Wind’ is one of the shortest offerings but still has time to make a massive impact with intense instruments and particularly devilish aggressive vocals mixed with ominous chanting and spooky backings. The final track aptly titled ‘Outro’ is a brooding, alarming and intense instrumental and allows the listener to digest and reflect upon this intelligent shadowy opus.

‘Angel of Carnage Unleashed’ is excellently crafted atmospheric black metal full of grand anthems. Their long absence, along with the creative and striking keyboards, fast driven heated guitars, eerie screams, and hot-blooded drums, have made this release even more captivating. All offerings are wickedly dark but easy to revel in through their skill and precision, making it both exhilarating and exquisite.

“Angel of Carnage Unleashed” is released via Napalm Records on 12/11/21.

Check out the lyric video for ‘Black Fog and Poison Wind’ below:

DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED are:
Pasi Kankkunen – lead vocals, guitar
Jouni Mikkonen – guitar
Teemu Kautonen – bass, backing vocals
Tuomas Holopainen – keyboards
Kai Hahto – drums (session)

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