REVIEW: Darkend - Grand Guignol - Book I

Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Crash and Burn
Date of Release: February 28, 2012


Italian sextet Darkend is one of the more uprising bands within the symphonic black metal genre. They formed in 2007 from Reggio Emilia, and has since released two full-length records, the first in 2007, “Damned Woman and a Carcass,” and the next in 2010, “Assassine.” Afterwards, they released their third album in 2012 entitled “Grand Guignol – Book I.” As proven by this album, it’s clear that this group knows its way around creating enjoyably destructive metal.

To begin, the musicianship showcased in this album is very good, starting with the vocals. They are well performed, even though the high-pitch vocals tend to sound a little too squeaky, but that thankfully is a flaw that surfaces rarely. On top of that, the rest of the vocal work is very solid in terms of lower and higher-pitched black metal ranging. The guitars are also great, boasting a surplus of gripping melodies and riffs, and the drums, while sounding a little bit drowned out at times, are played greatly nonetheless. Despite the flaws, the things that are good in the musicianship are too good to come across as unsuccessful.

The sound production plays its role nicely as well. Even though, as stated earlier, it does make the drums sound a little too quiet on occasion, it does far more help than harm. The mixing makes the music sound quite raw, which leads to the music having more power because of its black metal-esque atmosphere. As a result, the tracks sound gigantic and vacuums the audience further into engagement. This type of raw production is perfect for this type of metal sound, and all in all, it’s stellar.

“Grand Guignol – Book I” is composed of explosive symphonic black metal, and it is planned and executed excellently. The music is very theatrical, thanks to the atmospheric production, and most importantly, the symphonic effects, which are the main highlight of this album. They are so resonant and powerful that upon first listen, one could have sworn that he or she has walked into an orchestra stage. And overall, the metal played here is incredibly raw, engaging, and vigorous, and there is much to take a liking to in this album. 

Overall, Darkend has done quite an impressive job with “Grand Guignol – Book I.” Despite the issues, everything from the musicianship to the music itself is great, in both performance and planning. It’s a very solid symphonic metal record, but the best track in here would probably be “Bereavement: a Multitude in Martyrized Flesh,” as it is the most vibrant and engaging. Symphonic black metal fans will likely take deep pleasure in this album, and hence the cover, the music breathes fire.

Score: 8.5/10 (Great+)