Dark End Grand Guignol Book I

The metal scene in Italy's central region of Emilia-Romagna is hellishly hearty, like a Bolognese Ragu. Following in the sinister footsteps of Tuscan neighbours Death SS comes Reggio Emilia's Dark End. Their third full-length release, Grand Guignol Book I, is a medieval symphony filled with lengthy tracks of minor scales and screeching vocals from lead vocalist Animae. "Descent (Ascent)," labeled a second movement, is an instrumental introduction, but with little metal value. It moves into "Aeinsoph —Flashforward to Obscurity," a more authentic piece of balanced guitar work, squeals and Yngwie-esque solos. Each track has sufficient interludes, full of sharp notes that acknowledge each instrument. With much focus on synths and pummelling blast beats, Dark End excel at creating a soundscape that's mythical and grand, full of pipe organs and classic Italian guitar on "Bereavement — A Multitude in Martyrized Flesh" and "Bleakness — Of Secrecy, Haste and Shattered Crisis." The song titles, or rather, chapters, of Grand Guignol Book I paint a sombre tale in lyrics that read: "on the pinnacle of emptiness, the eternal mantle spreads out," amidst verses in their mother tongue on closing track "Dawn: Black Sun Rises." This black sun may reflect their musically modus operandi, but Dark End's future looks bright. It's one thing to do a good corpse painted job, but these Euro black metallers depict a cacophony of horror on a fresh, new level. (Crash and Burn)