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Darkness By Oath - Near Death Experience Review

by Matt Hensch

Darkness By Oath has unleashed the Gothenburg masterpiece the world has been starving for.....about seventeen years after it stopped giving a sh*t about melodic death metal, or Gothenburg, or whatever you kids call it. At The Gates ran that train off the creative cliff back in 1995 with an opus called "Slaughter of the Soul," and since then only a handful of imitators have been able to mold something relevant without dousing themselves in horse diarrhea. Experiencing the item which calls itself "Near Death Experience" is almost sad, really. Had it been birthed in 1994 or so, the world of metal would've gawked at its glorious, mythical awe...but since this theme has been drilled beyond redemption by everyone and their brother, it looks weak, uninspired, and completely disposable as a proper representation of this once-feasible identity.

You know how some groups love to copy and mimic legendary bands? Well, Darkness By Oath probably wants to find, kill, and mutilate At The Gates so its participants can wear the skins of the deceased band members in hopes of actually becoming At The Gates so they can perform "Slaughter of the Soul" in its entirety until the end of time and fool everyone into believing that they are, indeed, At The Gates. "Near Death Experience" is "Slaughter of the Soul." It has the same riffs, the ultra-sugary melodies and accessibility, the mega-simple drum patterns, the screaming vocals ΰ la Tomas Lindberg; everything is a photocopied clone of At The Gates circa 1995. One problem emerges from this revelation: it sucks. Peg the innovation of "Slaughter of the Soul" down about ten notches and you magically get "Near Death Experience" instead. How enthralling. It also doesn't help, of course, that the main supply of riffs is nothing but cheap, haphazard chops of totally predictable, recycled junk you've heard countless times before.

Now, I've always been an adequate fan of melodic death metal, so there's no need to holler "OMG! METAL EWITIST DETECTEDZ!!11!"; I never took the liberty of taking it too serious is all, and I often find albums like this utterly repulsive. Clearly, Darkness By Oath does not give one iota about their blatant lack of originality, because, as I've previously stressed, this is the most obvious attempt at becoming a preexisting band or album that I've ever heard. Also, the core fundamentals of melodic death metal—the two components are right in front of your face if you're a bit slow on the uptake—are about as vapid as can be. If the computerized production and harsh vocals were removed, "Near Death Experience" would look natural next to a pop rock album. The riffs hold no grip, the songs are directionless, and the record is a test of one's patience.

I find it embarrassingly depressing that forgotten classics like The Crown's "Eternal Death" or the whole pie of A Canorous Quintet's conclusive discography have been buried in the ruins of time, yet "Slaughter of the Soul" continues to receive an unlimited line of empty praise wherever it goes. Listen up kids: this sound dried out immediately after it reached its peak. If you need more proof of its timely demise, look at Darkness By Oath and "Near Death Experience." These Spaniards hammered out a tribute in its honor, and it's easily one of the most tepid and forgettable Gothenburg releases imaginable; a prime example of its careless misuse by others, in fact. A definite purchase if you can't handle real death metal or find yourself always enjoying the lowest common denominator of music.

Darkness By Oath - Near Death Experience


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