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Dark End: Grand guignol - book I

24/05/12  ||  Sokaris

This review has taken me a little while because I’ve been busy picking up pieces of my brain. My mind’s been goddamn blown by a group previously unknown to me, who call themselves Dark End. Recently I was given the pleasure of discovering their third album of epic orchestral black metal album, “Grand guignol – Book I”. I’ve listened through the album many times and found it to be a fantastically written, masterfully performed and overall just an amazingly executed foray into musical grandeur. Nothing is done halfway and it’s an exercise in excess for the most part, a 72 minute maelstrom of excellent riffs, dramatic atmosphere, scathing vocals and seasoned musicianship.

I really can’t say enough good about this album, it’s a dense presentation of everything I love about this style of metal. Extended song lengths full of multiple movements, a high intensity approach to songwriting and bold touches of epic melodicism. Most importantly though is that middle point, the songwriting. Dark End are able to put together long winding pieces of music that flow together beautifully. The songs tend to introduce a lot of new parts, with some sections seeming like a climax or finale that just keeps getting topped. The band utilizes tension in its musical developments, knowing when to kick up the tempo and when to offer relief in utilizing some kind of melodic hook through the keys, lead guitar or both. The drumming holds everything in place and the vocals help bridge from verse to verse and beyond. The keyboards are well implemented, vibrant but never drowning out the other instruments. The guitarwork takes basic black metal as a starting point and includes more complicated lead playing and increases the overall dynamic. There’s occasional muscle in the riffing for more aggressive parts and a few solos are placed during climactic moments and astound with their speed and technicality, coming across like the band’s ace-in-the-hole. The playing is never flashy for the sole purpose of impressing the listener, rather the tuneful shredding appears with the intent to raise the emotional level of its respective song and underline a dramatic segment of music.

Production is lush, every instrument heard clearly but blended together well. The keyboard samples are excellently used, fitting the album perfectly. The guitars have a lot of attack which helps them stand their ground against the other instruments. Thankfully such a well-written album is presented in the best possible way.

“Grand guignol – Book I” is an absolute masterpiece that I only become more fond of with subsequent listens. Whether you’re a fan of symphonic black metal or not, there’s a lot to love here.


  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Self-Released
  • Website:
  • Band
  • Animæ: vocals
  • Ashes: guitars
  • Nothingness: guitars
  • Specter: bass
  • Antarktica: keyboards
  • Valentz: drums, keyboards
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Descent/Ascent (II Movement)
  • 02. Æinsoph: Flashforward to obscurity
  • 03. Doom: And then death scythed
  • 04. Spiritism: The transmigration passage
  • 05. Bereavement: A multitude in martyrized flesh
  • 06. Grief: Along our divine pathway
  • 07. Bleakness: Of secrecy, haste and shattered crystals
  • 08. Pest: Fierce massive slaying grandeur
  • 09. Decrepitude: One last laugh beside your agonies
  • 10. Dawn: Black sun rises