Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dissection - The Gods of Darkness (1997)

Originally released as a split VHS with the most unworthy Dimmu Borgir, The Gods of Darkness features one of the final gasps of the true Dissection. Recorded live in Köln, Germany on 31 March 1997, this performance is just as solid and possibly even more complete than the one on Live Legacy. The original release included bits of an interview between each song, as well as a video for "Where Dead Angels Lie", none of which are present here. However, the nearly 50-minute live gig is accompanied by three demo tracks from 1994. 

For early 1997, the setlist is pretty much what one would expect. It leans heavily on the Storm of the Light's Bane and Where Dead Angels Lie material. Considering the time constraints that were likely in place, they did quite a good job and still managed to include a couple lengthy tracks from The Somberlain. "Black Horizons" has always been a personal favourite, though seemingly often ignored for some reason, so it is a very welcome addition to this performance. Unlike Live Legacy, there were no technical issues preventing the mighty "Night's Blood" from appearing and giving the disc a more complete feeling. It's too bad, though, that they weren't able to squeeze in a couple more songs, like "A Land Forlorn" or "Soulreaper". 

As for the quality, this is a professionally-done soundboard recording, so you can hear everything very clearly and there is hardly any noticeable crowd noise (even during the quiet parts). That said, of course live renditions of these songs could never completely match the cold sound of the studio albums. That is actually a good thing, here, as it would be rather pointless if they were to mechanically reproduce everything with no variation. A massive part of the charm regarding The Gods of Darkness is the more raw feeling that it possesses. Slight differences in guitar tone, Jon's vocals and even Kellgren's drumming all come together to give a slightly different perspective on these classic songs. It's all a bit more organic, and you can really sense the energy and passion that the band puts into the songs. It must be said that the drumming does not seem quite as crisp and accurate at times, but it is surely difficult for most to match Öhman's talents. 

The bonus material consists of three unreleased demo tracks from 1994. Though the differences between these and the proper album versions are rather subtle, they are enough to create a somewhat unique atmosphere. The backing choir found near the end of "Retribution - Storm of the Light's Bane" accentuates the gloomy feeling of the song. The primary difference would be the more primal and vicious vocals, sounding less restrained and with a somewhat shrill tone at times. Some of the extended screams of "Night's Blood" just somehow adds so much. 

Much like Mayhem, Dissection existed in its classic form all-too-briefly and its output was rather limited. As such, fans must cling on to any and all recordings of these songs, hanging on every detail and nuance. The sound quality is excellent and beats the hell out of other bootlegs, such as Night's Blood. The Gods of Darkness is a perfect companion piece to Live Legacy and offers a more raw and intimate look at this legendary Black Metal band and is absolutely essential listening.