In the later years of the first Death Metal peak, say, the early 90’s there were bands that were pushing the boundaries of the genre. Into different directions, really. Of course, there were always bands like Morbid Angel and Death that had much more to offer in terms of musical intricacies than the average Massacre or Deicide bluntness, and from quite early on in their respectable careers. But the “new sound” really started to take shape from 1990 to 1993, when bands like Nocturnus, Atheist, Cynic, Gorguts or later Pestilence explored a more technical approach to the genre and basically laid the foundation for the acceptation for a wider musical scope to Death Metal in general.
But there were also bands that went for an even more progressive and kaleidoscopic sort of soundscape. While still keeping Death Metal as their starting point, they started adding Jazz, Progressive Rock, Doom Metal, Death Rock or Psychedelia to their visionary blend. And, not all too seldomly, all together. Just in the case of Dark Millennium from Germany. Pretty much in line with Edge Of Sanity, they went from a more or less straight up Death Metal origin to an amazingly adventurous sort of Death Metal free bird. It clearly felt the opportunity to move through their creative life soaking in its abundance. A band that forges through the early 90’s metal scene, making their own decisions and choices. Definitely boundless in resourcefulness and a “the sky is the limit” sort of attitude with never having felt a sense of oppression.
Dark Millennium’s ‘Ashore The Celestial Burden’, how available on vinyl for the third time through Floga Records, can easily be considered the pinnacle of early 90’s Free Bird Death Metal. Although its very foundation is full-fledged Doom/Death Metal which comes close to the early Doom/Death Metal bands from The Netherlands (The Gathering, Celestial Season and Phlebotomized – maybe it is no coincidence that all of those three bands also had a very genre-redefining and creative career), Dark Millennium added progressive elements, jazzy rhythms and breaks, Spanish guitar, the occasional clean vocals and whatnot. It all blends together so fluidly and so natural, as if it was all recorded in one take in a torrent of never-ending and unbridled creativity.
It is safe to say that this kind of (Death) Metal has never really appealed to a very large audience, but for those who have made the effort to make this music their own, it has proven to have immeasurable depth with the most insane that the genre can offer them creatively. For those who have experienced such precious moments with bands like Pan.Thy.Monium, Nocturnus, Phlebotomized or, in more recent years, with the last Morbus Chron or Sweven records but don’t know this monumental album by Dark Millennium, don’t hesitate any longer and pick it up. Having listened to the album again several times, I can say with certainty that this is an enrichment, not only of my own collection, but for extreme metal as a whole.