Album Review – Darzamat / A Philosopher at the End of the Universe (2020)

Let one of the best Polish metal bands of all time take you on a one-way journey to the end of the universe with their highly anticipated fifth full-length opus, showcasing their unique fusion of heavy music, philosophy and witchcraft.

It might have taken excruciating 11 years for Katowice, Poland-based Symphonic Black/Gothic Metal outfit Darzamat to stun us all once again with their fusion of heavy music, philosophy and witchcraft, but fortunately the wait is finally over with the release of the beautifully titled A Philosopher at the End of the Universe, the fifth full-length album in the career of such distinguished band that has been worshiped by fans from all over the world since their inception in the distant year of 1995. Produced, mixed and mastered at Gorycki & Sznyterman Studio in Krakow, Poland by Jarosław “Jaro” Baran, one of the most successful Polish music producers of all time, together with Grzegorz Sznyterman, A Philosopher at the End of the Universe is a concept album picking up the story right where its predecessor Solfernus’ Path, released in 2009, left off, including a fragment of a story straight from a classic Gothic novel written by the band’s vocalist and mastermind Rafał “Flauros” Góral together with his poet friend, prose writer and linguist Jesion Kowal, all of course spiced up by the darkly enthralling vocals by frontwoman Agnieszka “Nera” Górecka, the guitars by Chris, the bass by Markus and the drums by session musicians Icanraz and Kamil Bagiński.

An atmospheric, cryptic intro title Reminiscence opens our minds to the dark and visceral music blasted by Darzamat in the title-track A Philosopher at the End of the Universe, where the mesmerizing vocals by Nera make a beautiful paradox with the harsh gnarls by Flauros while Chris embellishes the airwaves with his melodious riffs and solos. Then we have Running in the Dark, spearheaded by the thunderous bass by Markus and blending Gothic Rock and Metal with modern-day Rock N’ Roll while acid poetry flows from Flauros’ demonic roars (“I take upon my shoulders the weight of the world / Blood and ugliness, bitterness and pain / Death, mourning, sadness and deep shadow / Still the world is hard to accept”), followed by Thoughts to Weigh on Farewell Day, starting in a truly menacing way thanks to the Stygian guitar lines by Chris and the infernal growling by Flauros and evolving into a Symphonic and Progressive Gothic Metal feast for admirers of the genre. And Nera once again captivates our senses with her unique voice in The Tearful Game, while the music remains as ethereal and enfolding as possible, or in other words, a metal version of a witchcraft ritual, also showcasing intricate and fierce beats from start to finish.

Investing in a more aggressive but still very atmospheric sonority, the band fires a lesson in contemporary Gothic Metal entitled The Sleeping Prophet, where the lyrics are once again stunningly declaimed by Nera (“The icon of Man on the monument of the world I am / Mors rules the land on the other side of darkness / The serpent is arisen in my breast / I curse and feel when God deserts me”), whereas in Clouds Clouds Darkening All the band sounds like a hypnotizing hybrid of Moonspell and Type O Negative, with all scorching riffs and fast-paced beats providing Flauros and Nera all they need to shine with their “darkness and light” vocal duet. Their second to last ode to obscurity, The Great Blaze, begins in a sexy and heavy manner with Nera distilling her Medusa-inspired vocals while Chris slashes his guitar in great fashion, alternating between somber moments and sheer melancholy, before Darzamat puts a climatic ending to the album with The Kaleidoscope of Retreat, highly inspired by the Gothic movement from the 80’s and 90’s, and with a huge focus on Nera’s enfolding vocal lines, therefore leaving us eager for more of the music by this new era of one of the best Polish metal bands of all time.

I truly hope Darzamat do not take another decade to release a new album, but as we never know what musicians like Flauros and Nera have in mind and what direction they want to take in their careers, let’s enjoy the moment and appreciate the first-class fusion of Symphonic Black and Gothic Metal from A Philosopher at the End of the Universe by streaming the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course by purchasing it from Daramat’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Those Polish metallers are also waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, ready to invite you to their coven and to take you on a melodic and Gothic journey to the end of the universe with their breathtaking new album, consequently (and hopefully) pointing to a busy and prolific period for the band in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: A Philosopher at the End of the Universe, The Sleeping Prophet and Clouds Clouds Darkening All.

Worst moments of the album: Thoughts to Weigh on Farewell Day.

Released in 2020 TuneCore/Szataniec

Track listing
1. Reminiscence 1:41
2. A Philosopher at the End of the Universe 4:28
3. Running in the Dark 4:30
4. Thoughts to Weigh on Farewell Day 4:17
5. The Tearful Game 5:26
6. The Sleeping Prophet 3:54
7. Clouds Clouds Darkening All 4:39
8. The Great Blaze 4:15
9. The Kaleidoscope of Retreat 5:43

Band members
Nera – vocals
Flauros – vocals
Chris – guitars
Markus – bass
Jacek Gut – drums (live)

Guest musicians
Icanraz – drums (session)
Kamil Bagiński – drums (session)

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