Upon listening to this album, the listener familiar with the classic Norwegian black metal albums from the first half of the ninetiess will undoubtedly be reminded of Emperor In the Nightside Eclipse (1994). But apart from the way in which the keyboards are used for effect, the first Blood Stained Dusk is quite distinct in songwriting approach and in the crafting of individual sections. And while less clear and profficient in expression than Emperor, relegating the present release to a lower tier, Dirge of Death’s Silence is still a highly suggestive and imaginative work of black metal.
While the strength of Emperor In the Nightside Eclipse, and other European black metal gold-era gems, consisted at least in part in presenting a monolithic face or a clarity of personality, more mixed and unsure propositions such as this first Blood Stained Dusk, concentrate on trying to bring more elements into the mix. Rhythms change more often and vary more abruptly, without making the music clumsy, perhaps also taking after the more technique-oriented, and less distinguished, Emperor Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997). The fact that the approach here is much more percussive is characteristic of American metal in general, indicating perhaps a wider and deeper cultural schism with the generally more melodically rich European music. Therefore, while tones, melodies and synth echoes do effectively highlight and deliver climaxes for well-built expectations, there is an utter lack of substance and distinctness to the melodies —a characteristic handicap of most American underground metal.
On the evocative side, however, one could say that Dirge of Death’s Silence approaches the colorfully saturated expression of power metal, in a dirtier, more confused way than the speed metal influences renascent in Immortal At the Heart of Winter (1999). In a way, then, this music appears more like a painting than like music, and sections present themselves as spreading tones of red, white, blue and tones of grey. This is not to say that there isn’t any sense of narrative present, and the contrary is true as we sense a clear, ondulating and varied progression of moments connected to each other. Rather, the music allows the narrative elements to be submerged under the moments, as if we were allowing ourselves to sink into the world created by the words of a skillful hypnotist.
Reflected in the music is the sensitive, varied and decisively intensive character that shows itself a trait at a time through the cracks. Here is a longing for a confused myth, an ancestral darkness twice removed that eludes the artist, becoming a symbol of what is not there anymore rather than an archetype of reality. As an album lost in a world of fantasy, it has the power to carry the listener away, filling him with the drug of over-indulged nostalgia —the nostalgia of blood and species, the whispers of our genetic past and premonitions of hidden planes beyond the strictly tangible, the seed of manifestation lurking right under our eyes. The present is an album to dream with rather than to appreciate musically, and is recommended as a suggestive and even moving experience.