Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Desolate Shrine – The Sanctum Of Human Darkness
You awaken and find yourself adjusting to a grey haze that fills your field of vision, without any variability in shade. You feel an ominous, unnamed weight upon you, not a physical weight, but the weight of the evil and darkness that humankind is capable of. You hear distant screams, shrieks, howls, from unknown sources. They sound human, but only if humans are being subjected to acts that defy description. As you explore the room in which you find yourself, it appears to be a shrine of sorts. But what manner of madman has assembled this shrine? All around you are images and souvenirs of the worst types of human behavior. Serial killers, mass murderers, acts of genocide, all are portrayed in various tableaux that seem reverential. Scenes and devices of torture fill the room. You look at some of these devices and even wonder how they work, what exactly they do, and then decide it's probably better not to know. All of this appears to be holy to whoever has brought this together. You stumble upon a book, it almost appears to be a hymnal, with 8 songs describing acts of atrocity. And suddenly you see it, inscribed in an archway above a door that you have just noticed. You are in the Sanctum of Human Darkness.
Listening to this release from Desolate Shrine will certainly put you in the mindset above. Human darkness is cataloged and described, and you can almost detect a sense of religiosity to it. After all, we have the "good" religions, and look at all of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion over the centuries. There is nothing to be feared more than a true believer, who has bought into their belief system so much that they will do anything, will justify anything, in the name of what they believe in. Murder, torture, rape, pillage, plunder, wipe out entire races of people, enslave them, treat them as a sub species. All of this has been done in the name of religion, in the name of belief. It is still done today. We look the other way many times, because they believe in a religion, and religion is good, right? We look the other way until it is too late, until fanaticism has turned to action, and action has created death and destruction.
With "Sanctum Of Human Darkness", Desolate Shrine show us these things. Song titles are apt descriptors for this darkness. "The Chalice of Flesh and Bone: The Eminence of Chaos", "Demon Heart: The Desolate One", "Pillars of Salvation: The Drowned Prince", are just a few, and some of the better ones. This is music that will drag you into the darkness, if you require force, or take you there willingly if you are of a mind to drift into it complacently. However you get there, you will know darkness when you arrive. The mood of this album is palpable from the first few notes of the first track. You know what you are in for almost immediately and for almost an hour you are aurally assaulted with hymns of darkness. If you need it categorized, it moves between black and death metal, seamlessly and flawlessly. There are some great atonal moments. If you listen with headphones you are rewarded with all sorts of things in the mix, things that although you hear them, you are not quite sure what they are. Was that a guitar or a scream? Primarily this is music that is black and bleak. Forget genres, this is music of feeling and atmosphere.
I'm not sure what it says about me, and I really don't care, but I love this music. I can listen to this all day long, every day. Too often we seem to think that life can only be light or darkness, good or evil, beautiful or ugly. And we let the world, we let so-called societal norms tell us what these things are. But if we free our minds, if we think for ourselves, if we allow ourselves to recognize and define what is beautiful, what is worthy of our attention, then many more possibilities exist. This music has a beauty all its own and we shouldn't shun things simply because the norm tells us that it is underground, that it is out of the mainstream, so therefore it should be ignored. Yet it is here, just like the human darkness described in this release, and we ignore it at our peril.