D APHELIUM: Profetian Om Dygden Och Plikten
Release year: 2020
Label: Black Market Metal Label/Wolfspell Records
Sometimes it seems like the 90’s Swedish black metal scene gets kind of overlooked these days, apart from a few choice names. I mean, Marduk and Dark Funeral are household names, but a lot of other names who put out some decent material seem to have fallen into obscurity. I guess it’s no wonder, really, considering the rich death metal scene they had to “compete” with nationally, and the very hyped black metal scene of their western neighbors. But labels like No Fashion Records had quite a lot of interesting blacker metal in their roster as well, with a distinct sound I feel doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
Where aforementioned Marduk and Dark Funeral, along with bands such as Setherial focused on speed and evil sounding riffs, other bands found a more delicate balance between aggression and melody, black and death. Acts such as Noctes, Unanimated, The Moaning and Dawn spring to mind. You really don’t hear that kind of sound anymore.
The lengthy preamble is probably a dead ringer for where I’m going with this: Swedish D Aphelium have a strong 90’s vibe to their music, and bring particularly to mind forebears from their native Sweden. Whilst not slavishly following their cues, I sense a definite spiritual-musical kinship to some of those bands mentioned above.
D Aphelium are black metal, let’s get that sorted out right from the bat. But from time to time there are melodies and passages that bring to mind 90’s Swedish melodic death metal acts such as Unanimated, who in their own expression more than flirted with black metal. And there’s a strong sense of melody here, in the throwback tremolo picking riffs laden with occasional synths. Combined with a rather traditional, bass-thin sound, it’s obvious that when D Seerstrand, sole member of D Aphelium, looks for inspiration, he casts his eyes to the past.
And that’s well, because he channels 90’s melodic-yet-raw black metal with some skill. In fact, there are some very capably crafted parts here and there, bits which make you stop and pay attention. However, lamentably, these don’t come together as memorable songs. They’re padded with sections of more or less throwaway sawing guitars, which aren’t bad but not very interesting either.
There’s a lot of potential on Profetian Om Dygden Och Plikten, moments when you wish you could sincerely say you like this album more than you do. But then comes another moment of generic plodding. It’s a damn shame.
I guess a cynic could say D Aphelium get the shape right, but not the substance. There’s something to that, but not in the sense that this album would be about doing 90’s melodic Swedish black metal by the books; it rings true in the sense that D Aphelium sound authentic, and occasionally reach that same melancholic, wistful splendour, but most of the time don’t.
And that’s kind of frustrating. Profetian Om Dygden Och Plikten is, as a result, a decent album, but not one you’ll be returning to very frequently. But it could have been. If only… if only…