Dantalion - Fatum

Angry Metal Guy

The fusion of black metal and doom is a finicky one. With a vast repertoire in both reported palettes, the sounds and combinations are as diverse and unique. From the liturgical weight of the real Batushka, the noise-saturated soundscapes of Elysian Blaze or Choir, the dark psalms and hymns of Mizmor or The Ruins of Beverast, or simply the straightforward pummel with blackened edge of Desiccation or Dolorian, there is no end to the variety. Spain’s Dantalion specializes in a blend of the Gothic doom enchantments of My Dying Bride or Saturnus and the lightless whimpers of Silencer or Lifelover. Their ninth full-length Fatum is as melancholic and hopeless as its themes suggest: the inevitability of fate.

Dantalion has been around for a hot and sad minute, the act’s sole appearance ’round these parts being 2014’s Where Fear is Born – given its fifteen minutes of 3.5 heaven by a young and naïve version of the Great Ape Himself.1 The Vigo-based quintet has largely kept the same lineup since this last showing, but they contend that Fatum is their “comeback” and magnum opus. To their credit, thanks to the expertly concocted blend of shredding tremolo, doom tempos, and tortured vocals, they create the best album of their career – although held back by the lethargy of its influences.

Fatum by Dantalion

Opener “Great Funeral of Dawn” lays out the rest of the album neatly, a fluid exchange of slower doom tempos interspersed with blazing blastbeats beneath a sharp layer of melodic tremolo and vocalist Sanguinist’s tortured barks. “Qayin Dominor Tumulus” and “Exu King of Souls Omulu” are cut from the Saturnus cloth, heart-wrenching open chord strums and subtle melodic shimmers guiding a gentler foray into moroseness, while more triumphant “Novena Wake Begins” and “Hades Visions” feature more Dark Funeral tension throughout the calmer passages and satisfying climaxes of layered tremolo and wild blastbeats. Closer “Sounds of Bells and Open Scissors” features a solid fusion of the two sounds, desperate and formidable riffs collapsing into a melancholy conclusion with each passage alongside wild vocal attacks. While Fatum leans more into a more blackened production in emphasis on scathing razor-thin riffs layered to the hopeless effect it displays, each instrument is audible, as drums are often the only light of ferocity in a sea of despondency.

While there are a few nitpicks throughout Fatum, Dantalion’s main issues are the general slough from which very little emerges. As you may expect a fusion of Swallow the Sun meets None to look like, energetic and fist-pumping aren’t descriptors you’d typically see. While “Abyss Eating Serpent” is awkward for its surprisingly major chord progressions that derail this darker vibe, fleeting ambient interlude “Mortuary Song” feels largely unnecessary, and highlights “Hades Visions” and otherwise epic closer “Sounds of Bells and Open Scissors” end far too abruptly and anticlimactically, the more glaring issue is that Fatum requires many deep dives to mine the gold – not necessarily a puzzle to solve but a monotony to break through. It largely flows together, with many songs refusing cohesive structure in favor of atmosphere – mood is more of the selling point for much of the highlights rather than standout passages or the almighty riff. While highlighting black metal rawness in its fusion with melancholy doom, these potentially interesting instrumental performances hardly hold weight, held back further by Sanguinist’s more grating barks.

Dantalion is back, baby, and more morose than ever. Don’t expect vast and weighty compositions of doom grandiosity or raw exposes of kvlt intensity, but rather some limp in-between fairly described as frail or melodramatic. Fatum feels like the work of veterans, as it should, but with directionless songwriting guiding a depressive “attack” with Gothic “intensity,” Dantalion can feel like just a mood piece for outsiders, and simply a saturnine installment for the ear accustomed to black/doom’s wild variety. Fatum goes out with a whimper – exactly how it’s supposed to sound.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Non Serviam Records
Websites: dantalion.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/dantalion.metalband
Releases Worldwide: September 8th, 2023

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Sun Sep 17 14:18:55 GMT 2023