Denali – Denali – EP Review

Artist: Denali

Album Title: Denali EP

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 1 April 2022

I always get excited when I’m presented with a new band about which I previously knew nothing, and which impresses me. It is even more exciting when the entity is almost completely unknown, and the material you’re listening to would appear to be the first that they have unleashed on the world. It feels like I’ve uncovered a secret and, because I like the music, I become very impatient to publish my thoughts, a bit like I get at Christmas and birthdays when I’m itching to give out presents to see people’s reactions.

The band in question go by the name of Denali, and according to the email I received from them directly, they’re based in Hertfordshire in England. The idea for this band came from guitarist James McGrenery in the summer of 2020 and since then, he has recruited Countless Skies duo Ross King (vocals) and Nathan Robshaw (drums) alongside guitarist Adam C Taylor (Everest Queen) and Cerberus Unchained’s Simon Marston on bass. If I’m being completely honest, it’s the Countless Skies connection that led me to check out this EP more quickly than I otherwise might, but I’m certainly glad I did, because this self-titled release shows genuine promise as well as being a great listen in its own right.

The quintet themselves recommend their music for fans of My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Swallow The Sun and October Tide, describing themselves as “a melodic death-doom metal band which seeks to weave dark narratives into a musical tapestry that balances soul haunting melody and crushing heaviness, to wrap the listener in a cocoon of palpable sorrow.” If it wasn’t for the fact that there’s a decent amount of truth in this, such a description would normally have me laughing hard. As it is, I’m hard-pressed to disagree too much.

The three-track EP has a run-time of nearly half an hour, so adding tis to the description above, you already know what to expect to a certain extent. But what Denali don’t do, is disappoint. It all begins with ‘Catafalque’, the longest of the compositions that extends into double figures, and the opening is ominous, dark, and cinematic. It’s all blown away in an instant by an enormous riff that threatens to shake the foundations of my house. Aided by powerful drumming and solemn orchestration, it is a strong opening statement, but one that disappears almost as soon as it arrives to be replaced by a quiet introspective passage, led by the sounds of a delicate guitar melody and aided nicely by a rich bass. The heaviness does return and it once again thunders with alarming inexorability, slow-paced and churning. Whilst the production might not be as clear as I’d hope, with the cymbals being a little too loud and the guitar leads too quiet for my tastes, you can’t help but fall in love with the gloriously dirty and heavy guitar tones, the elegant melodies that are woven into the fabric of the track, and the deep growls, already familiar to Countless Skies fans. Like any good death doom band, there is plenty of variety across the song, with the tempo shifts, increases in orchestration, sombre guitar leads melodies, quiet passages, and moments of bruising brutality. It all culminates in a thoroughly absorbing listen.

‘Beneath The Waves’ follows, opening with the sounds of waves lapping against the shore. From there, as with the opener, the heaviness lays waste to the quiet beginning, but it does so with style and skill, as the music is both elegantly melodic, mournful, and vaguely progressive in construction, with riffs and notes not quite going where you initially expect. I get frequent shivers and chills as I listen to this song, because it’s so beautiful. Again, what Denali do so well is mix things up, meaning that there is a nice sense of drama along the way, with nine minutes racing past in a flash. I adore the groovy, chunky riffs that emerge at the heart of the song, only to descend into full-on death metal attack. Of the three, this is my favourite track, but it’s like choosing between the first three Metallica albums – an impossible task.

This hugely impressive EP is closed out by ‘Deathless’, which just sees a continuation of the high quality that has gone before it. The bass guitar really comes to the fore within the quieter sections on this song, whilst there’s a darker feel to the synths and atmospheres – It’s less melancholy, and more ominous, enhanced by some unforgiving guitar riffs that again threaten to tear down the Mansion Of Much Metal.

I’m so genuinely psyched about this discovery because I see greatness in their future. Their chosen genre can be an unforgiving one, but what I hear on this self-titled debut EP leads me to believe that Denali could see themselves rubbing shoulders in the not-too-distant future with those bands that have influenced them to this point. Now it’s time to build on this release and show the death/doom world what they can do with a full-length record. I won’t be the only eager one to hear what comes next, I can assure you of that.

The Score of Much Metal: 90%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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