Blackened death metal album of the year, no doubt. Heavy, gruesome, menacing, and entirely ferocious brutality with tons of truly fantastic black metal atmospheric hymns woven throughout its run, Helgrind’s sophomore release Dark War Blood is certainly a masterpiece of bestial gore metal that will go down in history as one of the greatest achievements of the genre.
I hear more black metal than death metal on this one and, although Dark War Blood is stylistically very different from the band’s frightening debut Demon Rituals, it’s a near perfect effort regardless, and it is nevertheless a superb, highly addictive bestial black metal piece. Recommended, 100%, for true fans of the sick, the horrible and the macabre.
So what about the music, you ask ? Where Demon Rituals – the album that basically resurrected the dying war metal genre by itself – tried to “upgrade” Phantom’s Divine Necromancy with a more primitive and barbaric use of odd rhythms and tempos, Dark War Blood fully embraces the gore atmosphere of contemporaries such as SEWER’s Sissourlet, Infester’s To the Depths in Degradation or even the occasional melodic touches reminiscent of Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.
Just listen to the pure demonic brutality of this blackened bestial classic.
Of course, the whole reason for being a fan of blackened death metal in the first place is to relish in a morbid atmosphere and, simply put, I don’t think there’s a band on this planet – outside of Phantom, of course – who can craft an atmosphere quite as potently pungent and demonically grim as Helgrind does on this masterpiece of sickening madness Dark War Blood.
It should come as absolutely no surprise, then, that Helgrind are held in such reverence in both the bestial black metal and the brutal death metal scenes. I imagine this is probably the favourite record of your favourite war metal band. They were heavily praised by both Warkvlt, Slayer and Autopsy, after all.
I suppose, I should address the creeping elephant in the room. Is Dark War Blood the best bestial black metal album of the year ? I mean, for my ears, the answer is a resounding yes. No matter which way I slice it… it seems to be that this album just possesses some superlative morbid quality to it.
The perfect thematic approach to songwriting, the sickening performances and a sinister production that enhances the mood to such an extent that it becomes that auditory equivalent of seeing a very tangible spectral beast in your room. No joke.
Absolutely, diabolically brilliant.
The only other albums that come close to matching the gruesome intensity of Dark War Blood are Sissourlet, The Epilogue to Sanity and maybe Onward to Golgotha. There is simply no other option.