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Dark Intervals: III

Just as he did in 2014, Finnish multi-instrumentalist Ilkka Harjula found himself inspired by the February Album Writing Month campaign, and as he did with his album II, came up with and recorded all of the tracks for his third – and cunningly titled - album III during that month in 2015. However what is different – and markedly so – is the musical attack; Harjula eschewing the Jarre/Schulze synth approach of II and returning to the Gothic, stoner, doom which found our very own Mark Johnson so enthused by the Dark Intervals debut, The Flow, in 2013. For that album Harjula welcomed vocalist Mergit Tornio, however here the sole member of Dark Intervals also takes vocal duties and if there's a weakness on this otherwise engaging release, then unfortunately that is it. Vocally Harjula simply doesn't have the power, control or forcefulness to truly convince and up against mighty riffage, fierce drums and keyboard crescendos, his voice really begins to fade into the background. Musically we are on a far more sure-footing, confident swathes of guitar used to set dark atmospheres, as mid-paced grinders prove to possess more character and depth than initially suggested. Harjula is a skilled fret-smith as best displayed on the closing "We Are Lost/For All Who Mourn", where his homages to Iommi are augmented by a strong flavour of Blackmore, to great effect. Elsewhere, slow deliberate smashes of doom lead the way with a real sense of threat and purpose resulting in "For Light" capturing the imagination and "But A Speck" (where the lyrics were written by Inkamari Välitalo, as they are on "A Thousand Dreams" and "Time And Place") evoking a truly unsettling air; the latter also proving that when he reins in his vocal excesses, Harjula can at least convince to some degree.

Credit to Ilkka Harjula for being able to flip from one style to another with such apparent ease, albums II and III from Dark Intervals having so little to connect them other than their creator and his desire to build engaging atmospheres. Therefore it's hard to be too harsh on an album that obviously comes from the (dark) heart and which convinces in many ways. For vocal purists, there's no denying III will prove a test of their resolve, however for Doom enthusiasts with a stronger hankering for guitar driven fare and atmospheric outbursts, there's much here to get your teeth into.

Track Listing
1. Intro
2. But A Speck
3. A Thousand Dreams
4. Time And Place
5. Wandering Thoughts
6. Dream II
7. For Light
8. Dream III
9. We Are Lost/For All Who Mourn

Added: August 23rd 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dark Intervals III on Soundcloud
Hits: 1020
Language: english

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