Darkest Grove: Pain and Suffering Shall be Known

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Darkest Grove: Pain and Suffering Shall be Known
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Darkest Grove: Pain and Suffering Shall be Known
Black Metal
Forever Plagued Records
2006
Release length: 1:03:21
Myspace
Darkest Grove is a Black Metal act based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This one man project formed back in 2000, and eventually released the first demo recording, The Rudimentary of Pessimism, back in 2002. Four years later, the band signed to Forever Plagued Records to issue the debut full-length recording Pain and Suffering Shall be Known. This album is actually a conceptual effort around the idea of stuggle of mankind to learn our origins. Even the concept art for the release is inspired by a cylinder seal from an ancient Mesopotamian site that is theorized to be the key to origin of mankind which depicts Enki holding an adamu, a proto-human), the first human cloned from the kings of Nibiru circa 300,000 B.C., a planet that revolves around the sun in a further orbit. This is actually my first time hearing about this seal, so my curiosity towards the origin of humanity, and how close my own theories are to this immediately sparked my interest, as it would anyone curious on the origins of humanity, but does the music manage to hold that now peaked interest?

The album quality to Pain and Suffering Shall be Known is actually quite surprising given it being an underground release. The album doesn’t quite sound professional, but it’s still surprisingly clear, but not so much that it takes away any bite that the band brings into the recording studio, and it just gives the album a more ruthless and sinister feeling to it between the guitars that actually come off a bit like dull razors trying to cut away at you, a rich bass presence and well paced drums that all work to create a cascading darkness to the environment of the release. The vocals are a mixture between some lower shouting with the traditional Black Metal rhaspier style, and are performed with a great amount of energy that compares greatly to the enthusiastic performance of the instruments and overall sound of some of the tracks, as well as dwarfs it in others. You wouldn’t really know this right from the start though, as “Pain and Suffering Shall be Known” is actually an instrumental that kicks off with an organ playing something you would expect to hear in a church during one of their hymns, accompanied by a guitar. Though the song ends, it makes for the perfect set up to this release and it’s concept, and the same guitars that appear later in the track and end it are what starts “(Within My) Drunemeton”, giving it a bit of a spiritual feeling until those guitars stop entirely and the sharp guitars kick in, a brief clean singing performance to usher in what could be more of a ritualistic atmosphere, then belting into some solid Black Metal that seems to shift out towards atmospheric rich music that sets up an environment of pondering, as if deep in thought. While these transitions are not done that well, it suits the overall theme of the recording and manages to work well with that concept in mind. Sadly, this does happen a lot, and begins to just feel more like poor composition skills then anything else.

Outside that darker environment that occurs through some of the recording and the pondering atmospheres that make up much of the release, there’s nothing all too special about this album. Pain and Suffering Shall Be Known is just a mix of alright and solid, haunting Black Metal, especially for a one man project, but it feels like it’s been done before and offers nothing too unique outside of some decent music. Many of the songs that follow don’t necessarily capture the concept of the album musically, or at least well enough to let the listener’s mind wander in thought. The material here also never really seems to go fast outside a few key tracks and moments, but more at a mid-tempo or slower pace then normal, which helps with that sensation of being deep in thought, though at times it seems to border what some would consider more of a Depressive Black Metal sound, such as with “Now in a Ruined State Will She Ever Cleanse Herself”, a track that simply feels very depressing moreso then being of curiosity. The ending of this track does pick up the pace a bit, but it’s one of those rare moments, and even then isn’t anything too fast, but it’s very catchy and comes off better then what came before it, making for a very suiting climax to this over seven minute song.

“Alone Eternal Part I” does a good job of setting up “Visions of the Withering Wood”, but at the same time the song is nothing all that special. The atmosphere that seems to appear on many tracks before just doesn’t really exist on here. Aside that absense, the track itself is still solid Black Metal, but it’s nothing too jaw dropping or inspiring, nor will it really hold you attention for a long period of time. Thankfully that isn’t the case with the following over nine and a half minute track “The Human Plague”. The music here feels much angrier then anything else recorded for the album, and the vocal performance works well to make the song feel a little more emotionally driven as well at times. Darkest Grove does slow the track down here and there, and the transitions are alright, though sometimes feel as if they come out of nowhere to segway into a slower approach. Sadly all this builds up to a rather monotonous ending, and at eight minutes and nine seconds, you can clearly hear some studio editing, something that seems to appear on previous songs but could be questionable. Instead of a decent transition, you hear the music going, then it just all stops, including the cymbols, as a whole other verse crashes in abruptly cutting it off. This is just one of the problems to keep an eye out for with this effort.

One of the bigger faults to Pain and Suffering Shall Be Known are the quite length audio sample on “Repudiated Ideology of Lies and Deceit”. If you ever heard the band Mortician, you’ll be able to comprehend the length that some of these samples can go on for. The song itself makes for a good track that balances faster Black Metal with mid-tempo changes throughout, though the pause for a slower reflective section feels a little awkward around the half way point, but the audio sample that starts up this track lasts nearly two minutes, and about half way through it you get the point, if not earlier then that. Even though this sample sets up the point of the song, why the longer ones don’t just have their own track given their length is beyond me, as the song itself is great, but just takes forever to get to, and it kind of kills off some of the atmosphere to it as well from waiting so long. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch considering “Pain and Suffering Shall be Known” and “Alone Eternal Part 1” are longer instrumentals that are clearly designed to set up the atmosphere of the track(s) that come after it.

Darkest Grove seems to have a good idea in mind, and Pain and Suffering Shall be Known starts off great at the beginning, but eventually just becomes another standard U.S. Black Metal recording from a one man project. The atmosphere to the recording is interesting at times, and the potential for the album to be great is there. Sadly, it just doesn’t live up to that potential, and the album just ends up falling on it’s face from faulty transitions, obvious studio editing, and only a few songs that really can grab the listener’s attention thanks to a bunch of tracks that are not quite generic, but are just boring and sound like rehashed version of other songs you already heard on this album, or even heard other bands do better. The raw quality does help the album out a bit, and tracks like (Within My) Drunemeton” and “Sacrifice Against Life Itself” are still solid tracks that you can come back to again, but overall, the album is worth checking out, but it’s just not going to hold your attention during the entire sixty three minutes of music that make up this effort.

01. Pain and Suffering Shall be Known – 3:44
02. [Within] My Drunemeton – 7:11
03. Now in a Ruined State, Will She Ever Cleanse Herself – 7:19
04. Repudiating Ideology of Lies and Deceit – 6:42
05. Perpetual Failure – 6:10
06. Alone Eternal: Part I – 2:58
07. Visions of the Withering Wood – 6:15
08. The Human Plague – 9:38
09. Sacrifice of Life Itself – 5:12
10. Wandering Through the Limbo of This World: Part II [Dead, Lost, Spirit] – 8:18

Overall Score: 4.5/10
Darkest Grove (band)
Darkest Grove (logo)Physical review copy of this release provided by Forever Plagued Records.