On their third album Spellcraft, the Bavarian quintet Darkseed have successfully married modern death metal with elements of progressive rock, 80's radio metal, 70's riffery and gothic overtones. It's a winning combination that makes for one of the most satisfying metal albums in recent memory.
One of the first things you notice about Darkseed is their unique combination of vocal styles: clean, high-pitched male vocals give way to growling and thunderous bombast, followed in turn by a counterpoint female interlude. This arrangement is laid on top of some very complicated, very mature songwriting, which moves from acoustic guitar to keyboard to metal guitar with fluid ease, and then back again. The lyrics are dreamy and ethereal, and are written with the flair of high poetry.
While Darkseed is certainly not the first band to add gothic keyboards and female vocals to heavy metal, they may be the first to do it so well in the short-song format. These are three to four minute tunes, each of which carries the majesty of a church organ taken over by a madman and his guitar-wielding friends. Especially notable are "Self Pity Sick," a brilliant choice for the Death...Is Just The Beginning compilation, and "Senca", a strange song with a bizarre climactic vocal interplay. "Be Ever Heard," aside from an opening that makes you fear that someone has slipped a Ted Nugent disc in your player, features some vocals that you would swear belong to Geddy Lee.
It's a terribly diverse album, with a varied sound that makes it interesting to listen to countless times over.