Darktrance - Ghosts In The Shells
Solitude Productions
Depressive, Pseudo-"Experimental" Black Metal
9 songs (42:12)
Release year: 2008
Solitude Productions
Reviewed by Kyle
Archive review

After listening to Ukranian Black Metal band Darktrance’s debut full length Ghosts In The Shells a few times, I was somehow reminded of a Bible verse that I learned when I was about nine or ten years old in Sunday School. I don’t remember the actual verse, but it it went along the lines of "Being undecided of God’s existence angers Him more than if you don’t believe in Him or if you worship the devil". Now, I probably completely butchered that line of scripture, but the same idea roughly applies to Darktrance. Typically the Black Metal I listen to falls into one of two camps: BM that’s a cacophony of shrieks, blastbeats, and evil tremolo riffing that is a true throwback to the oldschool, and highly inventive BM that takes the genre in new, interesting, unthought of directions that will influence future Black Metal bands. Darktrance, however, falls uncomfortably in-between the two, and tries to blend the former of these two styles with obscure synths and electronics. And dear God, it’s messy.

Solitude Productions, Darktrance’s label, describes their sound as “Powerful, with apocalyptic atmosphere and original use of electronics that will catch the fancy of all Extreme Black Metal lovers”. I must make a few corrections here. As Darktrance is a Depressive Black Metal band, the sound is hardly “Powerful” at all, and is mostly a jumbled mix of oddly placed synthesizer usage, computerized drums, and overbearing vocals that are far too loud in the mix. Also, as a big fan of Extreme Black Metal (I’m one of the biggest defenders of Bal-Sagoth and Dimmu Borgir), this band certainly does not catch my fancy. In fact, most of it is downright off-putting.

The music may be fairly uninteresting, but there are a few high points on Ghosts In The Shells where the shots at originality are aimed true and actually hit their mark, particularly in the riffs department. Some tracks, like Delusional Dreaming, feature some interesting tempo changes in time signatures that actually make for some fairly memorable moments, as Darktrance will occasionally incorporate some traditional lead guitar riffs that remarkably don’t seem too out of place. A small portion of the synth usage is actually entertaining, too, whenever the band isn’t trying to create a gloomy atmosphere by relying solely on the electronics alone. Black Sun comes to mind, which features a simple but haunting clean guitar riff accompanied by melodic keys in the intro and interesting synth use at the core that’s borderline symphonic sounding. The only other stand-out track is God Of Time, as it strays fairly close into Thrash territory with palm-muted tremolo riffs and double time snare hits.

Though these two songs are on the right track, and a few of the other songs feature a moment or two that stick in your head after you’re finished listening, Ghosts In The Shells as a whole really isn’t worth your time or money. Perhaps if Darktrance can implement the electronic elements to better use as they show they are very capable of on Black Sun, or build upon the Thrash element found on God Of Time, and maybe even hire a real drummer as the drum machine makes the music sound very artificial as a whole, the band may yet put out a good or great record in the future. But Ghosts In The Shells, though stylish in parts, will not warrant a recommendation from me. Next, please!

Killing Songs :
God Of Time, Black Sun
Kyle quoted 53 / 100
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