Where Hatred Dwells & Darkness Reigns
A truly immersive symphonic metal experience
Zornheym's debut album 'Where Hatred Dwells & Darkness Reigns' is a tour de force of extreme metal and symphonic elements melded together. Comprised of current and former members of bands such as Dark Funeral and Diabolical to name a few, the band is also joined by their own choral ensemble called the "Chorus Tenebris" and Dies Iona Ensembly to really pull the sound and atmosphere together. The ambitious nature of this project is something that could either hurt or help the band depending on the end result of this final product and I have to say that what the band has delivered here with 'Where Hatred Dwells' is nothing short of spectacular.
You get some really incredible musical contrasts with the aggressive black and death metal that the band plays along with some really elegant orchestral pieces. The vocals are really cool as well because they are a mixture of black, death, and clean vocals with the choral backing adding an element of elegance and suspense. What really sets this album apart however is the subject of the album and the supplementary pieces that go along with it. The album explores the residents at Zornheym: Asylum for the Criminally Insane and some of its residents. The backstory provided in the insert is incredibly well-thought-out and full of information that goes along with each patient examined in the various tracks that comprise the album. There is also apparently an accompanying graphic novel that comes when you purchase the album that provides further depth and context to the story.
The story aside, Zornheym really pulls off the symphonic metal in a way that allows each element to work independently of one another as well as a cohesive musical unit. The guitars have a nasty, punchy quality to them at times but then become more mellow and subtle when required. The drumming varies between frenetic blast beats and well measured rhythm to help add to the direction of the song. The bass and keyboards are featured as more of a complement to the drums, guitars and orchestration but are featured solely at various points throughout the album. Not to be forgotten, producer Sverker Widgren has done a phenomenal job of producing this ambitious undertaking and having all the pieces involved fit together and bring the puzzle together. He has achieved this and really done a terrific job of allowing the story to come through the music as well as the lyrics.
One thing to keep in mind with the album is that it's not one that you will be able to just breeze through and pick up every little detail and nuance that the band have put into each and every track. You will need to spend some time with this one to truly appreciate the scope of what 'Where Hatred Dwells' has to offer. And it's not hard to do that with the quality of the album itself and the vast array of materials provided to facilitate this. I am thoroughly impressed with what Zornheym has offered and truly hope that the doors to the Asylum are still open and will continue to provide further fodder for more albums to come. If you are looking for something to really sink your teeth into and don't mind spending some time with an album, look no further and prepare to go Where Hatred Dwells & Darkness Reigns!