Ireland is often synonymous with musicality. Simply the name Thin Lizzy alone could carry the entire country aloft when it comes to hard rock, frankly. Gloomier metal paired with an Irish penchant for melodicism is a no brainer recipe, and the welcome return of Darkest Era is a blessing for the heavy metal music scene. Past songs like the rousing folk of ‘Poem To The Gael’ showed the group had awesome potential, hopefully now to be realized in a (cough) brighter era for the semi-slept on act?
It has been about seven years since the powerful group released something, thus one could be forgiven for wondering if the album title Wither On The Vine (Candlelight)is a commentary on not letting your dreams fall by the wayside. Whatever the state of the utter shitshow that passes for a music industry these days, it stands that at the end of the day you have to create for yourself.
If it reaches the ears of the metal faithful, Darkest Era’s latest will nonetheless have no problem bringing fans new and old to the table. This group needs to be widely heard and their risks deserve to pay off. From the huge and stoic drumming, walls of all-encompassing guitar and keys to mournful yet so very magnanimlously alive vocals, this is one not to miss. The valiant ‘With Tragedy In Our Blood’ alone is worth the price of admission.
Melody was once a hallmark of the most iconic metal, from Priest to Dio. I love heavy vocals but often noticed over the years it can also be a sign of one trick pony insecurity. This is not to slander many excellent and classic or new harsh vocal bands, but there is something incredibly strong when bands like The Old Dead Tree, Shores Of Null, Baroness, Funeral‘s recent Praesentialis in Aeternum or Sub Rosa‘s magnificent The Usher have managed to confidently sing or harmonize atop heavy music and stir the soul into believing again.
For myself, once esteemed Primordial is ruined for me since Alan Averill went way over the line with MRA apologism and fash-adjacent edgelordery (stop thick-headedly stanning MGLA, ethno-nationalism and Jordan Peterson, folx). Thusly, it is wonderful to hear a moving Irish metal band again that hopefully aren’t as eejits about that stuff and still slay at Celtic heavy goodness.
Darkest Era excels in pacing, space, balanced mixes and pure payoff. They deliver in big ways that fans of Candlemass or Wheel will thrill to hear. ‘A Path Made Of Roots’ is the greatest track and truly unforgettable, Krum absolutely owning the moment vocally soaring atop a pitch perfect melodic metal journey of several brooding chapters. ‘Tithonus’ is presumably named after the consort of Eos and one of the saddest stories in mythology, the song a beautiful opus. ‘The Ashen Plague’ explodes with a black metal ferocity before a marching, introspective determinism prevails. ‘Floodlands’ stomps forward as if a Maiden record was set to Sabbath settings, the edge of no return never beckoning so enticingly.
This is a band really going for it, with noticeable results.
7 / 10
MORGAN Y. EVANS