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Deimhal – The Grand Gathering

deimhal – the grand gathering


In a time where melodic Dissection-inspired Black Metal and symphonic Black Metal were at the height of their popularity, bands like the Finnish Catamenia fit right in. Perhaps never the most original or best of the pack, albums like ‘Halls of Frozen North’ and ‘Eternal Winter’s Prophecy’ were amongst a few entertaining records they released in the late 90’s and early 00’s. But amidst line-up struggles, an unsuccessful drive to find an own sound by adding for instance clean vocals and a mellower tone and the waning popularity of these Black Metal styles they faded out of sight. Unbeknownst to me, to this day they still exist, but to be honest, it doesn’t seem I missed a whole lot.

By the time the decline had thoroughly settled in, original vocalist Mika Tönning and bass player Timo Lehtinen had long left the band. After their departure in 2003 the latter continued releasing albums with Kalmah while the first disappeared out of sight. That is until 2021, when both members reunited in a new band called Deimhal together with current Kalmah and former Catamenia drummer Janne Kusmin, keyboard player Henri Isojärvi and guitar player Gabor Dancs.

Whether a coincidence or not, their first recording falls straight into the revival of symphonic Black Metal that has been going on for a few years now, and the band presents exactly that style on ‘The Grand Gathering’. In that sense, like Catamenia, the band finds it way a little behind the initial wave but still at a time where there is still great demand amongst the fans. But Deimhal doesn’t exactly follow the path of most of their Finnish peers. As opposed to a raw framework based on Finnish Black Metal, Deimhal opts for a more Norwegian approach. Instead of choosing to mimick the old Norwegian symphonic Black Metal sound, instead the base of the guitar riffs is very much inspired by the later Immortal albums, and in particular ‘All Shall Fall’. While Mika Tönning’s vocals aren’t an exact copy of the legendary frontman, they certainly hit a similar croaky register. The likeness with ‘All Shall Fall’ is at times almost blatant, especially in opening track ‘Alliance of Winter’. But then Deimhal adds a symphonic element, which is best described as strongly influenced by Dimmu Borgir, again particularly on their later records. Combined with the addition of clean vocal choirs in for instance ‘The Serpent King (Dumah-el)’ this gives the songs an overall epic and bombastic nature. Most of the material holds a midpaced tempo, outside the at times rattling bass drums, except for final track ‘Vengeance of the Night Crows’ where the overall pace is a bit higher. A welcome change, as the material otherwise would have become a bit interchangeable.

Amidst the rise of many new bands that have rejuvenated the classic symphonic Black Metal sound of the 90’s with a fresh new vigour, Deimhal opt for a more modern set of influences in combining the sound of later Immortal and Dimmu Borgir. It’s certainly a different angle and the band should be commended for that. Personally? I prefer the more raging black Metal with musical wizardry like Moonlight Sorcery or Argenthorns, the epic versatile soundscape of Stormkeep, a raw Pagan undertone like Warmoon Lord or an authentic throwback to symphonic Black Metal like Vargrav, Ymir or Sorgetid. To be fair though, I’m not nearly as enthused by later Immortal and Dimmu Borgir as I am by their classic 90’s work so I would advise anyone that holds that later sound close to their hearts to give ‘The Grand Gathering’ some attention, it’s certainly an album that has a place in the current musical environment.


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