Now this is more like it. A fella from the excellent Katatonia, moonlighting as a blood-drinking maniac named Blakkheim, makes some truly sick and inspired music with the aid of Dan Swano under the name Diabolical Masquerade. Only this time, Blakkheim has been called on his bluff. A major motion picture company threw (presumably) truckloads of money Blakkheim’s way to score a movie by the name of, hey, Death’s Design. And, oh my fucking god, did he rise to the challenge. No, it’s not Hammer Horror that’s forking over the bucks, it’s West And Hill (dunno, but they’re from Hollywood). Don’t trouble yourself any more of this Variety rag style gossip, the movie’s dead in the water, and you can check out his Web site if you want more info. But if you want the music, you’re in luck, cuz Avantgarde are untroubled by the nonsense of the film industry and released the fucker anyway. Now I want to make sure to get this right, because the structure of this album is one of the most innovative that I’ve come across in a loooooong time. There’s 20 longer Movements, each divided up into several smaller pieces/fragments and named in a more conventional manner, to match the action that was to occur at that moment in the film, presumably. So I end up with a track of 61 perfectly interlocking tracks! The longest of these sub-movements comes out to around two minutes, the shortest comes out to around six seconds. But the arrangements are so beautifully precise and painstaking. Swear to god, had a blast playing this on my computer and watching the track times click down, while marveling at how each track bled and/or faded into the next one, even in what we would consider mid-song! Breathtaking craftsmanship on par with the artistry of the music. Death’s Design is a synthesis of black metal’s bloodlust with the soaring heights and emotive ambition of European power metal. Combine that with a sick, gurgling vocal performance from Blakkheim (equal parts King Diamond and Carcass), and plenty of symphonic conceits that MAKE SENSE within the overall scheme, and suddenly there’s an instant metal classic playing on my stereo. I love it when grand designs work out.