BlackEternal – Darkness Embrace II: The Oakenford Chronicles
Release Date: 13/01/2021
Running Time: 145:19
Review by Chris Galea
It’s hard to compare this album to anything else. I’m almost tempted to say Ayreon meets Dimmu Borgir but that doesn’t half give the picture.
“Darkness Embrace II: The Oakenford Chronicles” is a Self-Release that’s over 2 hours long (so I don’t suppose it exists in CD or LP formats). It’s a concept that continues directly from Black Eternal’s previous album. ‘Nightmare Eternal’, based in the U.S.A., is the solitary guy behind the ‘band’ Black Eternal but he relies on the services of voice-actors to help shape the album. In fact, the actors’ dialogues and narrations represent a significant part of the album’s unique selling points.
The intriguing story centres around one Tiffany J. Morgan who ends up in a horrific mental asylum after she is considered responsible for the brutal murder of a team of paranormal investigators, which also included her own boyfriend. As psychiatrists and police try to uncover what really happened, an unspeakable evil risks being unleashed. The events are depicted within a distinctly noire-ish ambience where the asylum of Oakwood Isle almost develops a life of its own…this is a salient characteristic of classic Gothic literature.
As the story unfolds through voice-acting and Symphonic Black Metal music, the cinematic quality of the album becomes quite striking. Black Eternal is very adept in using sound effects to enhance the realism of a scene and the orchestral melodies are excellently composed. Symphonic music, Black Metal and acting all work together to create some impressively dark and dramatic moments. Besides, the story is well written, the dialogue feels genuine and the level of acting is quite high.
Sapping some of those positive qualities are pitfalls that are commonly associated with one-man-bands. For example, the drum sounds sound like bubble-wrap popping, there are no discernible guitar solos, very little bass and the mixing sometimes makes listening uncomfortable. I realise this music is meant to feel raw but when you have something as ambitious as this, the rawness should be more contained. At least in my opinion.
This is a very niche album but as far as one-man-bands go, it’s certainly a cut above most.
‘Halls Of Madness’ (Audio)
01. The Oakenford Chronicles (Prologue)
02. Pavor Nocturnus
03. Chronicles I
04. Voices From The Crypt
05. Halls of Madness
06. Chronicles II
07. Nocturnem Infernalis
08. The Haunting of Oakwood Isle (Intermission)
09. Thorne’s Domain
10. Chronicles III
11. Demonic Spirits II
12. Darkness Embrace II
13. Capta Est (Chronicles IV)
‘Nightmare Eternal’ – Vocals and all Instruments.
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