Desiderii Marginis is without a doubt one of the main fixtures of Swedish dark ambient, so to see new material emerging from the project is always a pleasure. It’s habitually evocative and tastefully done, but in any art form, there’s always a struggle in creating to do better… or if not better, differently, and so what’s disappointing about Serenity / Rage is that it doesn’t particularly succeed at either. That’s not to say that it’s a bad album; it’s just quite familiar in many regards. The not quite placeable samples that, although they thematically tie into the underlying concept, don’t quite distinguish the songs from one another, or the album itself from past, most powerful works.
Where some variance emerges is in the few numbers that avoid the aforementioned vocal samples, as much as they add a certain poignancy in certain moments. “Psychogeography” gives off slightly more SNES overworld vibes, whereas “The Hours of Darkness” is more purposefully ambient and wind-like in its instrumentation. “New Flesh on the Demon Cold” gets a little more percussive than its peers, but even this is a rather slight variation. The rest of the tracks have a certain mystique and grey glamour, but one would be hard-pressed to elucidate what differentiates each from its compeers.
Overall, Serenity / Rage does ominous ambience relatively well, but it never really succeeds at distinguishing itself from other Desiderii Marginis works, let alone other dark ambient acts. The ostensible obscurity of the samples also doesn’t lend itself well to understanding their relevance to the album’s conceptual core, but perhaps more worldly listeners will be able to place their sources in time. A laudable effort, but one that ultimately doesn’t quite impress either.