Let’s brave the world of Melodic and Symphonic Black Metal created by this talented Slovak six-piece band who sings entirely in their mother tongue.
Founded in 2006 in the city of Malaciek (or Malacky), Slovakia, around 35 km north from the capital Bratislava, what Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal band Down To Hell have to offer the fan of heavy music goes beyond your usual symphonic and extreme elements. Their music relies heavily on contrasts, as in singing as well as their instrumental and lyrics written in the form of stories, providing a more complete experience to the listener. In addition, although they say they play Symphonic Black Metal, which instantly brings bands such as Dimmu Borgir to your mind, they sound rawer and more inclined to old school Black Metal than that.
However, the most noteworthy characteristic in the music by Down To Hell is the fact they did not “surrender” to the English language, singing their songs entirely in their mother tongue, Slovak, which adds an extra touch of darkness to their 2014/2015 debut full-length album V Zajatí Temnoty, or “Captive Darkness” in English. The only thing in English ends up being the band’s own name, which makes me wonder why they’re not called “Dole Do Pekla” instead. Anyway, let’s get down to business and see what V Zajatí Temnoty is made of.
Ticho Pred Búrkou, or “calm before the storm”, is exactly what this piano intro represents, and you can get a sense of how symphonic their music is before the actual storm begins in Pán Vetra, Búrky A Mrakov (“lord of wind, storms and clouds”), with the growls by singer/guitarist “Kani” Miroslav Gajdár matching perfectly with the musicality proposed while the keyboards by “Lubo” Ľubomír Müller complement the havoc created by the song’s guitar riffs and drums in a very interesting way. Slightly darker than the previous tune, Skazení (“wicked”) sounds almost like raw Black Metal in some instances but pure symphony in others, with the nice job done on guitars enhancing its overall quality. It’s the first song of the album to showcase the clean vocals by the gorgeous “Maťa” Martina Bilkovičová, who has a very good chemistry with Kani and his screams.
Keeping up with the previous songs, Bosorské Sólo is another great mix of extreme music and melodic instrumental, where it’s interesting to notice how drummer “Beňo” Dušan Šelc can easily change from a more rhythmic drumming to furious blast beats, providing more progressiveness to the music; followed by the “sudden attack” offered by the band in Krvavé Jazero (“bloody lake”). This song, which has a solid flow from start to finish, is how dark music should always be, with the smooth voice by Maťa being like a dream amidst its nightmare-ish beats. Unfortunately, the band disappoints a little in Prízrak (“phantom”), which despite starting differently than the other songs in a thrashier way, it doesn’t know if it’s Melodic Black Metal, Pop Metal or Symphonic Metal. It’s still an enjoyable tune, but below the album average especially as it’s not very clear what its final goal was.
The final triade in V Zajatí Temnoty couldn’t have started in a better way than with Smrť (“death”), where not only the guitar lines by Kani and “Ťapo” Martin Matlovič sound amazing, but Kani also does an awesome job ranging from high-pitched roars to truly deep guttural. Besides, pay attention to how the band is able to sound cruel and harmonic at the same time, just like what Extreme Metal icons Cradle of Filth perfectly do, and you’ll understand why this is one of the top moments of the album. Then we have the dark ballad/waltz Nemŕtva Nevesta (“undead bride”), where the clean vocals by Maťa steal the show, achieving an even more pleasant performance due to the keyboard notes by Lubo; and finally the excellent Drak (“dragon”), a fast and metallic tune that has that amazing European touch to increase its quality and cohesiveness, including elements from genres such as Folk and Viking Metal, with Lubo and bassist “Miro” Miroslav Hulka being responsible for building the whole ambience for the rest of the band.
To sum up, if you want to brave the world of Symphonic Black Metal sung in its entirety in a language other than English, visit Down To Hell’s official Facebook page, YouTube channel, Bandzone.cz and, of course, buy their music at their BandCamp page. This six-piece Slovak band truly knows what they’re doing, and I’m sure their non-English words won’t restrain them from reaching new heights with their music so talented they are.
Best moments of the album: Pán Vetra, Búrky A Mrakov, Krvavé Jazero and Smrť.
Worst moments of the album: Prízrak.
Released in 2015 Independent
1. Ticho Pred Búrkou 1:41
2. Pán Vetra, Búrky A Mrakov 5:26
3. Skazení 6:43
4. Bosorské Sólo 8:40
5. Krvavé Jazero 7:10
6. Prízrak 7:48
7. Smrť 6:39
8. Nemŕtva Nevesta 7:35
9. Drak 6:28
“Maťa” Martina Bilkovičová – clean vocals
“Kani” Miroslav Gajdár – guitar, screams, growls
“Ťapo” Martin Matlovič – guitar
“Miro” Miroslav Hulka – bass guitar
“Lubo” Ľubomír Müller – keyboards
“Beňo” Dušan Šelc – drums