Pitched under the banner of Celtic Metal, Darkest Era’s second full length, Severance (Cruz del Sur), shares more with the Dark Forest’s and Slough Feg’s of this world than it does with a Cruachan or Waylander. With elements of Atlantean Kodex and Trouble prevalent, it is an album borne more of the traditional metal vein than any of the blackened folk ilk that usually fall under that description. That’s not to say there aren’t traces of black metal in their sound, but this tree is rooted in classic metal.
While vocalist Krum (anyone for Quidditch?) rightly takes plaudits for his strong, powerful clean vocals, it is the excellent dual guitars of Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Weighell that keep the ante well and truly “up” throughout with some crushing gallops. In between they flit seamlessly between clean passages and Di’anno-era Iron Maiden harmony riffs and trade-offs, before scooting back into well-crafted and heavy classic metal riffs.
‘Sorrow’s Boundless Realm’ leads the way, an acoustic build up into a blackened riff, before the anthemic ‘Songs of Gods And Men’ stirs and rouses, calling to mind more recent Primordial (they can be forgiven for stealing the middle section and solo from Thin Lizzy classic ‘Emerald’). ‘Beyond The Grey Veil’ is a slower, more considered piece, leading to a doomier outro that calls to mind New Dark Age Solstice.
Come the second half of the album, the gauntlets are off and Darkest Era tear their way home. ‘Trapped In The Hourglass’ nods to Grand Magus before we move via the fist-pumping ‘The Scavenger’ and ‘A Thousand Screaming Souls’ to round things off expertly with the heroic ‘Blood, Sand And Stone’, an epic that spirals off via a dual-guitar build into a soaring lead, with Krum trumping his previous excellent work, fully opening his diaphragm to earnestly guide the ship home.
Mixing NWOBHM and epic doom, Darkest Era’s sophomore effort is an album of stirring and impressive classic metal, and is a call to arms that deserves to be answered.
8 / 10