Desolate Shrine end long pause, unload horrifying visions with morbid ‘Fires of the Dying World’

Darkness is upon us, which is hardly a new development considering what has been transpiring across the world the better part of two years, and that’s not isolated to a plague. Existence in and of itself has become a harrowing thing to take up, and every time we seem to have a slice of positivity to devour, it gets ripped from our greedy hands.

It’s fitting that Desolate Shrine would return from five years of silence with a new record called “Fires of the Dying World,” because that’s something in which we seem to be ensconced on a never-ending cycle. The Finnish death metal power, comprised of dual vocalists RS and MT along with multi-instrumentalist LL, never had a gap this long between records, and certainly there never has been as much upheaval in a timeframe like they’ve witnessed the last half decade. This fifth album lurks in shadows, where danger is at its apex, and nothing about the future is certain. Yes, life always has been that way, but never before has it been this magnified, and the band just sinks into that, spreading out the ugliness and pain.

“Intro” starts clean with acoustics settling and a synth wave making overtures, then we’re right into “Echoes in the Halls of Vanity” that ramps up the brutality right away. The growls do their damage as the guitars take off, the drums ignite, and suddenly, everything is fully engulfed. Leads swelter as the power cuts through bone, growls and shouts unite, and humid punishment gets thicker as the track bows out. “The Dying World” has the drums pacing the demolition and the rest of the band contributing fully to the mayhem, ugly growls feeling like blood gurgling through the earth. Things turn hypnotic for a stretch, blending into hazy hell, and the growls lurch out of that with everything fully destroying the surrounding infrastructure. “The Silent God” is the longest track here, running 10:16, starting with clean playing until everything explodes, and the pace rushes and chars. Animalistic punishment leads the assault while guitars tangle, beastly growls strike, and the gore thickens as it grows. A brief respite adds some calm, reveling in mystical sounds, and then the violence hits back, smashing the senses as the track dissolves into echoes and keys.

“Cast to Walk the Star of Sorrow” stings and unloads burly chaos, the synth haunting as the vocals corrode. Speed meets with sludge as the savagery multiplies, shrieks do their damage, and sullen guitars land before thrashy toxicity brings things to a brutal end. “My Undivided Blood” is an 8:41-long masher that slowly drips through devastation, growls pacing as the tar grows thicker. Leads light up the sky, creating a beacon amid a penetrating fog, bringing grim and gruesome tidings. Minds melt as the guitars heat up, and the final sweltering moments submit to a strange aura. “The Furnace of Hope” closes the album, starting with roars blasting through your chest and the vocals increasing the ferocity. Leads liquify as hell grows closer, fully devouring everything in its path, the growls and shrieks combining to rain razors into the shores. Things turn moody late, the playing slowly burns, and a final guttural turn leaves everything writhing in its wake.

“Fires of the Dying World” will not leave you feeling uplifted or hopeful, though you’d be foolish to enter any Desolate Shrine album and expect that experience. Obviously, the chaos and tension built within them the past five years, and this record is a bloodletting of pain and insanity, making it almost a perfect soundtrack for modern times. This is a foreboding, fiery experience that will find the worst, most hopeless tendencies within you.

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