While it’s readily apparent that at full-tilt Dagor Dagorath don’t do much to rise above countless other symphonic black metal bands blocking their share of the spotlight, they can and do really shine when they lay off the blast button and let things breathe. “Hell in Heaven” establishes this early with heaving, bouncy breaks between the blasts and lofty keys laced with angelic aria. Sometimes, though, too many disparate pieces that by themselves go down smoothly end up choking a song into frustrating knots. “Maze of Madness” features a ton of great ideas that serve well the premise of the song, like deranged, screeching guitars and keyboards that conjure swirling winds, but that also just don’t quite coalesce. And the weird and clumsy insertion of Gothenburg riffing bits into “Vicious Circle” all but negates the song’s quality bulk, including an excellent solo and kingly low clean vocals.
So, while Dagor Dagorath surely want for very little sheer mass, their true strength is reflected in periods of attuned restraint. They find that balance best in Yetzer Ha’Ra’s penultimate song, “The Call,” where a bright folk melody atop a mid-tempo tromp comes off especially well against the track’s relatively sparse cacophony and which leaves the listener asking for more of this, please. A good thing, of course, for an upstart band whose bright spots, though they struggle against the dim, are bright enough to bode well for a niche of metal that can use all it can get.