German epic black/death metallers Darkestrah have returned with their sixth album and in much less time than their previous work Mahak which I absolutely despised. Here we see the band going back to their roots, once again bringing in the occult shamanism that we’d expect, doubled with frantic blasts, teary yet frightening tremolos and that familiar folk influence that we’ve come to expect from these guys since the very beginning. Fans of true black metal will get just what they’ve been longing for on this recording, with a much rawer and more unhinged performance that sounds almost nihilistic when the soundscapes are not in use, albeit many of these different effects work to make a truly thrilling and engrossing experience.
Another factor that I feel makes Turan stand out among some of their other releases is it’s song structure. Not every cut here is just a constant barrage of drum blasts, as skinsman Asbath and guitarists Resurgemus and Scythe show the world that yes, they can do a hell of a lot more than imitate the classic black metal blast fests that they’ve offered in the past. There’s nothing wrong with raw black metal, until you’ve heard it ten thousand times without remorse and I can completely agree that these guys needed to change their gears a little bit.
The band now features Merkith on vocals, which is a big change as this removes their female vocalist Kriegtalith who first joined the band back in their early demo days. Never before have the band ever had another vocalist other than her, but I must say that if you’re still upset over the whole “females in black metal” thing, you’ll probably now be interested in giving this disc a listen. That being said, I feel that Kriegtalith’s work was some of the best I had ever heard since Astarte’s Tristessa (RIP.) As listeners might expect, Merkith hits the vocals with a devastating scowl which I’d compare to that of black metal’s finest. It’s not necessarily anything completely noteworthy in terms of a specific sound, but there’s definitely enough brevity and emotion packed into the package to make an impact. With the band sounding a bit more sorrowful than I think they ever have before, this approach certainly brings out a more nihilistic edge that once again, black metal fans will be clamoring for.
It is sad to say, but Turan is probably the one album that will really catch on with the black metal community at large despite the fact that they have a huge catalog of releases behind their belt. I am quite sure that there are those that will listen to this album a few times and say, “Now this is what I’m talking about” as far as that feel and vibe of traditional black metal is concerned. As I said, the record isn’t pounded to the brim with blasts, but it does have an authentic black metal atmosphere that reminds me very much of the classics. I’m quite happy with it, there’s nothing that I feel the band could do any different, nor should they after as much as they’ve already offered to us in the past. I’m truly just glad to hear that the odd Russian concept has been shelved for something that sounds a bit more accessible and feels more like I remember.
Even though I used to think of Darkestrah as an awesome female-fronted black metal act, I still think of them as an awesome black metal act regardless and that’s simply due to explosive melodies, powerful vocal performances and an atmosphere that focuses on the sort of dark and forlorn realms that black metal fans have come to enjoy for more than two decades now. It’s the kind of record that simply just delivers and makes the statement that Darkestrah are not dead, rather they are about to pave forth a new chapter with a frontman that I feel is every bit as powerful and recognizable as Kriegtalith was.
Turan is by no means just another drop in the bucket, and black metal fans just know. Especially if you like the real hopeless shit, like myself – because that’s exactly what you’re getting here. While we’re all waiting for the (brilliant! Did I say that out loud?) new album from legends Dark Funeral, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re going to find more than enough merit in this little disc and it’ll tide you over until that big moment. You very well might even like it quite a bit more and I sincerely hope that you do. It’s easy to say that Darkestrah’s latest effort is their best record in years. Without question, Turan is one of black metal’s best in 2016. (The Grim Lord)