Diabolical Masquerade is the one man band of Blakkheim, guitarist of Metal band Katatonia. The project has been over since 2004 when Blakkheim announced he didn't have the inspiration for a fifth record. In the 90's they dropped 3 fantastic records that were recognizable by Blakkheim's unique style of writing. His forth record "Death's Design" strayed from a traditional format, and served as a soundtrack to an imaginary movie. Of these three classic Black Metal albums, the debut "Ravendusk In My Heart" is my favorite, and browsing through my archive I spotted the digipack of this record which I have not heard in many years. In the mood for some grim frosty Black Metal cookery, I let it spin and was energized by a musician who's brilliance I had forgotten in recent years.
Ravendusk is a vibrant, adventurous record that showcases Blakkheim's creativity behind a guitar. Consisting of bass, drums, guitars, keys and vocals, the musical energy is often led by the continual riff fest of a bold, audacious execution of what is essentially traditional metal styles. Theres moments that feel definitively Groove or Thrash, and others that have the Maiden reminiscence of Heavy, or Power Metal which is tied together through the more common Black Metal style. These stylistic inflections are bold and transition from one another effortlessly in a stark fashion that despite its rigidity, just feels right. Song after song moves through riff after riff after riff. From blast beat guitar shredding to Blakkheim's charactered melodic leads he creates a genuine and unique atmosphere, different from anything else out there in the Black Metal realm.
His guitar work may steal the show through its parading front row presence, but an important part of the chemistry are the eerie, choral keys that laden the sound with a continual melodic affection that resides often in the background, but sometimes works alongside the melodic guitar leads. The drums and bass are solid, decent structural components of the sound, but rarely steal the limelight or stray to far from a comfortable position. Blakkheim's stark and shrill screams haunt these numbers with a continual presence in each song. Occasionally he makes use of some cleaner folk-like leads as well as some balls out Priest like vocals on the track "Under the Banner Of The Sentinel". The overall sound is traditional, yet has a gripping phantasmal vibe about it thats beautiful traversed by creative Metal musicianship. After many years its still a fantastic record, one which I maybe over listened at the time.
Favorite Tracks: Blackheim's Quest To Bring Back The Stolen Autumn, Blackheim's Forest Kept The Season Forever, The Darkblue Seajourneys Of The Sentinel, Blackheim's Hunt For Noctural Grace