IXXI - Elect Darkness
Black Metal
11 songs (55:10)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Goat

After their previous album, 2007’s kickass Assorted Armament, got them noticed in the wider scene, IXXI return with a killer new album on Candlelight Records. Taking a less immediately catchy path than its predecessor, Elect Darkness nonetheless follows a similar path, a sort of Black-‘n’-Roll with experimental sections, and nowhere is this so obvious than on lengthy opening track Underworld, which starts off like something from Metallica’s Load album, atmospheric strumming soon turning into a Satyricon-on-acid stomp. Slow and grinding, with plenty of sick snarls from vocalist Totalscorn (here sounding like a cross between Mayhem’s Attilla Csihar and Marduk’s Mortuus) there are even some amazing guitar solos and a spoken section. All seven minutes soon flow by, and before you know it you’re listening to the kickass Southern Tribes, which has a weird, almost Soulfly-an groove to the guitars (fear not, it’s amongst the Blackest parts of the album) and the spacey Beyond The Rapture.

Impressive most of all about Elect Darkness is the fact that the darkness itself, the Black Metal, is at the heart of the band’s sound, however catchy they get. It’s impossible to take the likes of Eastern Minions, with its militaristic march and almost Grindcore riffing, for anything else, even though it’s not the dictionary definition of Black Metal. All the members (also in bands like Lifelover and Ondskapt) play their hearts out, and even in the more melodic sections it’s easy to hear the passion. Songs like Northern Floods rattle along impressively, Totalscorn sounding like one of Dr Who’s daleks as his croaks descend into madness. Of course, what with Black Metal currently being divided into the original bands and the unoriginal ones, it’s likely that those that listen to Elect Darkness will do so for the catchiness, but the band are far from a one-trick pony. Closing track A Bitter Lesson, for example, is an atmospheric dirge that features some throat-curdling singing from Totalscorn before it descends into a miserable My Dying Bride-esque rant, occasional melodies rising from the darkness to writhe for a moment before collapsing back, the song dipping into an almost acoustic, pensive tone before an epic outro.

IXXI’s ultimate achievement is having taken the gnarled oak of the classic Black Metal sound and fashioned it into a weapon, a cudgel to viciously assault all who thought that Black Metal couldn’t be fun to listen to without deviating from the path of darkness, all who deny that atmosphere and riffs can go together. Beyond The Rapture alone is better than most other bands’ best attempts at atmosphere; heck, the breakdown in the title track is black lava personified. That this takes Satyricon’s last album and beats it into a sobbing, whimpering ball is just a bonus; IXXI’s take on Black Metal is best enjoyed for what it is, and what it is is pretty damn excellent.

Killing Songs :
Underworld, Western Plague, Beyond The Rapture, Elect Darkness, Enthusiasm, Vindicator , A Bitter Lesson
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Alex quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by IXXI that we have reviewed:
IXXI - Assorted Armament reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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