Album Review: Darkspace -II by Darkspace (Season of Mist)

Mysterious atmospheric black metal band, Darkspace are broadcasting again, from the depths of space, with that broadcast, Darkspace -II set to reach Earth on the 16th February 2024.

That’s a weird but intriguing intro to write but then Darkspace are a bit weird and intriguing. Founded by Wroth, Zorgh and Zhaaral in 1999 in Berne (Switzerland), in their 2 decades of existence they have released four albums and an EP, Dark Space -I to Dark Space III I. Self categorised as psychedelic atmospheric spatial black metal, or, for us simple folk, atmospheric black metal, Darkspace have rarely appeared live, which adds to their mystery. In 2019. Zorgh quit the band while they were awarded the Music Prize of the Canton of Berne for the creation of their soundscapes and their atmospheric performances. In 2022 Yhs joined Wroth and Zhaaral to complete the three again leading to this release, Darkspace -II, arriving on the 16th of February via Season of Mist.

In their own words:

Darkspace establishes contact with the earthlings yet again – an extensive aural manifestation materializes. Seemingly emerging out of the depths of a stellar-mass black hole, an otherworldly journey through the cosmos presents itself. With an icy-cold embrace and psychedelic conductance, the mysterious figures present ‘Dark Space -II’, a singular album of atmospheric black metal beyond human comprehension.

Darkspace are Wroth on guitars and vocals, Yhs bass and vocals and Zhaaral on guitars and vocals.

Darkspace - Darkspace -II band Artwork
Photo Credit: Darkspace

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To add to the intrigue, this new album, Darkspace -II, comes with just a single track on it. That track is titled Dark -2.-2 and is over 47 minutes long. I’m expecting a lot here now and expecting a bit of an experience and that is certainly what Darkspace deliver. So, how do you review and explain a single track of such mammoth length?

It goes without any need for words that this is going to be a long, patient and expansive journey. If you weren’t sure of that, the slow build up which is essentially spoken word, sampling and a bleak, cold backing noise that grows gently confirms it. After over two minutes of that, and in no hurry, other instruments start to join the sound. Little taps and hits at first, a few more effects but over the next few minutes it continues to grow, continues to evolve until nearing the 4 minute mark when it starts to transform into something recognisable as a riff.

As that riff grows, and the drums start to be recognisable, all still while the bleak atmosphere, the spoken word, the effects form the foundation of the track, you can’t help but be sucked in and brought along on this journey. You feel the cold, the vastness and weight of the universe upon your shoulders. We move forwards and of course expect changes on the journey but I can’t oversell the patience shown. Lead guitars join the soundscape, not replacing anything we have heard in the 10 minute intro, just adding yet another layer to this intensely layered track. That seems to be the way of Darkspace -II as well, adding more and more layers, letting different instruments and sounds rise to be the prominent one and somehow managing to make everything still work despite the fact there is a whole lot happening.

When vocals come in, they are harsh but quite far back in the mix at first. Lead guitars take over as we head into a post black metal style, then the vocals step forward a bit, then the spoken word sampling from the intro raises to be a little more prominent. Its a suffocating, all encompassing sound and it is not always easy to listen intently to a single thing as other sounds keep pulling you in different directions and you find yourself a little lost. Something I think is purposely done, as it adds a layer of confusion and more than a little chaos to the experience.

The song, as you would expect, constantly transforms throughout it’s considerable length and is defintely a single track. There aren’t really any very obvious splits where you would seperate into different tracks. Whether it is during harsher moments where the vocals and guitars are more prominent and lead you forwards, or the eerie synth, ambience and spoken word, or the hazy riffing and drum beat, the one common thing across the track is that you can’t help but be fully engaged with Darkspace here. 47 minutes is a lot though, and I’m not going to pretend it flew by in seconds. It didn’t always. There were times that my tiny little mind couldn’t handle the pace and patience and I wanted more, would look at where we were with time and realise there were over 20 minutes left.

Not because I was bored, or anything like that, I just think most of us are not quite accustomed to a track this long and this expansive. It is a challenge and requires you to work to maintain your focus but most of us can’t sit still for 47 minutes without any single moment of disturbance and I feel you need to, to really get the best out of Darkspace -II. Ideally sit on a spaceship, alone and float through space but if you can’t do that, headphones and a quiet room will work. If you are intrigued, and up for the challenge, you are in for a hugely rewarding experience though.

Darkspace -II is an insane song that shows an amount of talent and creativity that is nothing short of otherworldly. Captivating, chaotic, atmospheric, suffocating, enlightening – this really does have it all and Darkspace, as mysterious as they are, are clearly exceptionally talented musicians and composers. It’s next to impossible to do a song of this magnititude justice in words, it should be heard and should be experienced. It won’t be for everyone, I get that totally, but whether you end up loving this or hating it, the one thing I can guarantee you is that you will be left with a feeling of fulfilment and immense respect for the art you had the honour of experiencing.

You can preorder Darkspace -II from Season of Mist, here, or hit this link, if you want to presave the new album ready for the 16th of February

Darkspace Links

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Author

  • Brendan Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Heavy Metal and reading, two things I have always loved so they are the two areas you will find most of my reviews. Post apocalyptic is my jam and I always have a book on the go and have for decades now. From a metal perspective, age has softened my inadequacies and I now operate with an open mind, loving many bands from many sub genres but having a particular admiration for the UK underground scene. In my other time, when not focused on Dad duties and work, I try to support the craft beer movement by drinking as much of it as I can and you will also find me out on the streets, walking. I love walking, I love exploring new places and snapping nature photos as I go.

Darkspace -II by Darkspace (Season of Mist)
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