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Album review: Serene Dark – Enantiodromia

Embrace your shadow side with Serene Dark’s debut Enantiodromia

Forget fuck-your-mum Freud, nihilism Nietzsche and pronoun Peterson, Serene Dark take on the shadow with Jung on their debut album, Enantiodromia.

For the uninitiated, Carl Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychologist, psychiatrist and analytical psychologist who popularised concepts like shadow, anima, animus, persona and collective unconscious, and was big on investigating the meaning of dreams. He’s up there with Freud and co. in terms of significance.

One of Jung’s core beliefs is that humans need to acknowledge (bring to light) their darkest parts (shadow) to become a balanced human, ignoring them at their own peril. The blackened death band have fully embraced the concept, opening their 10-track album with one of Jung’s eerie monologues in “Dualitatem” and closing it out with another monologue in “Onward, Burning, Radiance”. The snippets were taken from a 1959 interview between Jung and John Freeman.

While this might be the debut album for Serene Dark, they have released several titles under their previous name Endemise, including Far From The Light (2013) and Anathema (2016). The lineup has stayed pretty stable, with Francesco Falsetto still on vocals (and lyrics), Dale Sauve on guitar (he also wrote and recorded the orchestrations and co-mixed the album), Graham Murphy on guitar and Alex Aksentyev on bass, with drumming duties moving from David Suave to Nick Rogers.

Now the Jung and Endemise history lesson is out of the way, let’s get down to it. Enantiodromia has a lot going on: There are melodic riffs, vocals that switch between raspy black metal fry and death metal gutturals, orchestral elements like violin and piano and blistering drums. Bass is in there but doesn’t come to the forefront of the mix that often. There’s even a solo or two (see “Reflecting Envenomed”). To the band’s credit, they juggle all of these elements expertly on most tracks.

Album highlights include “Dualitatem”, “Trance of Disintegration”, “Reflecting Envenomed”, “Malocchio” and “Onward, Burning, Radiance”.

“Dualitatem” is a wonderful opener, telling an epic story with its paint-stripping vocals, pleasurable guitar parts and furious drumming. “Trance” allows the bass to shine through a bit more and the hellish vocals go to impressive new heights. “Reflecting” features a sexy little trad metal solo at the halfway mark. Closer “Onward” opens with piano, violin and perhaps Jung’s most profound statement on death. If you had to pick a detracting element or two on this record, it would be the overuse of orchestration and the repetitive riffs on a couple of songs.

Serene Dark have taken one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century and absorbed him perfectly into their music. If you’re into psychology and metal, they don’t come much better paired than this. Too bad Jung isn’t here today to offer his opinion on the band’s shadow exploration. He’d probably approve.

★★★★✩

FFO: Septicflesh, Behemoth, Dissection

Enantiodromia is out now via Bandcamp and streaming services

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