THE FIFTH ALLIANCE - The Depth Of The Darkness (Album)
I’m not entirely sure what the other alliances were but this is the third full-length album from this particular one, THE FIFTH ALLIANCE. Originally conceived in The Netherlands way back in 2006 as an abrasive hardcore band, akin to the likes of Converge, Botch and Walls of Jericho. After some line-up changes and a shift in focus, the band re-emerged, trying to find a (not so) merry beat to march to. Coming off as some kind of melodic, blackened doom, post-metal, sludge crossover, they are really hitting their stride here with this beautifully bleak slow burner of a new album, carrying on from where the brilliantly entitled 2015 album ‘Death Poems’ left off and progressing that dark, emotionally-charged sound even further.
Opening surreptitiously enough with the clean, bold sound of ‘Black’, but don’t be fooled, vocalist Silvia’s sweet seductive tones soon turn into a harrowing throaty rasp as dark clouds quickly form around us and we are dragged into the despair that the band are about to create. The low-end doom-laden fuzz throbs and pulsates and the dark spectral spiralling rhythms take turns to both stab and embrace us alternately. The bass and drums provide a tight pummelling underscore for the bleak crackling guitars and mournful screams which do the majority of the story-telling. Playing out like a grim fairy tale, you just need to know what will happen next, which direction the sound will carry you and indeed what emotion it may evoke.
The whole experience is quite chilling and claustrophobic at times, with an intensity I can only imagine is likened to being trapped in a room with a maniac who has a knife at a friend’s throat, slowly digging the blade into the soft flesh of their neck as they stare you right in the eye. It holds you in a tight petrifying grip right until the last chord rings out from the bombastic closer 'Aleister'.
I found myself fully immersed in the power of this album for the whole of the 40-minute run time. There are only 5 tracks and yes they are long but they never outstay their welcome as the song structuring is superb. We experience a lot of subtle genre-shifting throughout the journey, done effortlessly and always remaining grounded in the core mood that the band have captured.
It's best listening to this on your own, through earphones with minimal lighting for the maximum effect. If you are strong-minded enough to appreciate this beautifully interwoven vision of bleakness, then I heartily recommend it if you appreciate the work of Myrkur and Cult of Luna, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I'd go as far to say this is a minor modern masterpiece and I can’t wait to see more from these guys.