Diabolical Masquerade

Death's Design

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    9
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The enigmatic Anders Nyström (aka Blackheim, aka, superhuman guitarist for Katatonia, aka, compositional genius) -- whenever his name or talent is attached to a project, one should always take note. Because the guy is one the most talented musicians in all of metal-dom (even in popular music). His gentle, emotional sound waves, crafted in Katatonia, carry enough brevity to sink the moon, but Nyström also has a cold-hearted, brutally heavy, yet enormously original side to him. His unused inventive energy is combined with his equally pent-up, hateful bliss to form Diabolical Masquerade. Primarily a solo project, with the occasional assistance of "that guy musicians call when they are short a player," Dan Swanö, to handle Nyström's desired percussive assault and keyboard duties. This latest opus is justly that -- a swan song (hopefully not) masterpiece which expounds all of Nyström's juices and pushes the limits of extreme metal to unfathomable artistic heights. How, daresay, does he pull off this magic act? By creating a soundtrack to a supposed Swedish horror film, Death's Design, that's how. Employing the Maalten Quartet from Estonia to assist with the film orchestration, Nyström throws everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at his listeners. Sixty-one tracks of sonic madness filled with grinding death metal, circusy keyboards, venom-spewing vocals, deliciously melodic/sometimes-violent guitar orchestration, and of course Dan Swanö's famous overly sentimental, Disney soundtrack-like clean vocals. That description alone is the tip of the iceberg, as the album is segmented into 20 movements, each with a distinct flavor and employing varied musical tricks. To individualize or nitpick certain tracks would take way too much time. The album, in all its overarching savageness, is poignantly beautiful. It encapsulates one man's utter devotion to metal and his compositional freedom. Nyström not only outdoes past masterpieces like "Nightwork" with his rare brand of scope and grandeur, but he utterly annihilates groups like Rhapsody (who claim orchestral superiority) by giving listeners a total package they don't have to be embarrassed showing their girlfriends. Folks, this is intelligent, highly progressive, extraordinarily heavy quasi-film score music (complete with token nods to Conan's score) filled with various horror samples, repeating motifs, mixed emotions, and a bloodcurdling salutation from Nyström himself. Travis Smith's artwork and photography are also staggering, as he puts himself on par with his luminous cover for Katatonia's "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," with its rare amalgam of organic imagery and cold, digital symmetry. Lastly, it should be noted that in order to achieve the intended level of listening satisfaction, one must start from the beginning. Then one can absorb Swanö's keyboard nuances, Blackheim's guitar exorcisms, and the overall ambiences which shape this release as one of metal's rare peaks. Not until Death Design's final disharmonic notes subside can one shake the cobwebs, returning to a grounded consciousness and the glass house they call reality. Or do they?

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 0:06
2
feat: The Hunt
0:15
3 0:24
4
feat: The Hunt
1:31 Spotify
5 0:39
6 0:21
7 0:40
8 1:09 Spotify
9 0:56 Spotify
10 0:57
11 0:20
12 0:18
13 0:11 Spotify
14 0:22
15 0:45
16 0:29
17 0:28
18 1:42
19 2:18
20 0:35
21 0:13
22 0:34
23 0:11
24 0:19 Spotify
25 0:27 Spotify
26 1:24
27 0:32
28 0:15
29 0:46 Spotify
30 0:50
31 1:02
32 1:06
33 0:29
34 0:50
35 0:16 Spotify
36 0:16
37 0:52
38 0:49
39 1:01
40 0:50
41 0:48
42 1:00
43 0:35
44 0:08
45 1:35
46 0:18
47 0:54
48 2:10
49 0:19
50 0:34
51 0:23
52 1:09 Spotify
53
feat: The Hunt
0:17 Spotify
54 0:36
55 0:45
56 0:32
57 0:27
58 0:36
59 0:56
60 1:18
61 0:05 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick