Ah, Sweden, it's so nice to have you back! The land of my ancestors has produced some damned fine bands over the years, but as the last decade wore on, it seemed like Swedish death metal took on a lower profile. As we forge on into this decade, though, many of those groundbreaking Swedish bands are experiencing a renaissance and are releasing some of the best music of their careers. Darkane is one of the more unsung bands of the genre. While their material has been more consistent, meaning they didn't really fall too hard towards the nu-metal side of things, they never really got the same notoriety as some of the more prominent Swedish bands

The Sinister Supremacy should erase all doubt as to Darkane's place in the Swedish metal pantheon. This is an album that hits all the elements just right. Amazing production, but not overproduced. Intense screaming vocals balanced with clean and semi-clean singing, but still rough and not overboard with 40 vocal tracks. Vocalist Lawrence Mackrory, who rejoined the band in 2011 after leaving in 1999, marks his return to the band's discography here and he sounds better than ever, his hybrid style complimenting the music perfectly. Finally, melodic death metal that has just as much heaviness and anger and, well, death metal as it does melody. Incredible tightness and precision on the part of the band, and yet, songs so well crafted that you are so caught up in them, you don't even notice it. Then when you hear a certain part, it punches you in the face.

The thrash influence is strong in this, which is good. Fast-paced and neck-snapping tempos abound. Fuck, it makes me wish I could have long hair again. The rage is palpable and pulsing like a raw, open wound. A slight progressive seasoning helps to set this apart from the more basic Swedish DM template, but it's very tasteful and understated. The classical intro is truly something to behold, something you would expect more from symphonic metal bands like Dimmu Borgir, and there are small, quiet classical interludes sprinkled here and there throughout the album just for accents. It gives the record that interval sprint feeling, where you go all out for a period of time, then back off, then go all out again. Surprisingly, or not, a few breakdowns appear that complement the songs they are featured in quite well, as opposed to being the climax of the song, which is what metalcore bands do. I suspect, in fact, that this new resurgence of Swedish metal will once again be co-opted by American bro-mosh bands, whatever, it's all cyclical, and that takes nothing away from how good The Sinister Supremacy is.

I can't recommend this enough. This is definitely in my top ten so far this year, if not top five. Well done.