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Dark Empire - From Refuge To Ruin Award winner

Dark Empire
From Refuge To Ruin
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 April 2012, 6:51 PM

When I interviewed DARK EMPIRE’s founder, main composer, guitarist and co-vocalist, Matt Moliti back in 2008, due to the release of the band’s second album “Humanity Dethroned”, he told me that when it will come to the material, things are going to get complicated, challenging and different that what was displayed in the past. Well for a moment there I thought that he broke things down with DARK EMPIRE, I was wrong. Nearly four years after the sophomore album, DARK EMPIRE returns with “From Refuge To Ruin”, signed to Nightmare Records (Way to go for signing them Lance). The way I see it, “From Refuge To Ruin” is another stage of progression. Four years back, “Humanity Dethroned” on its own presented a new face to a band that has been contemplating with a style of Power Metal and went under changes in order to complex things up and become a lot more unique. “Humanity Dethroned” was the proof to what went on in Moliti’s mind and it turned out to be my number one album for 2008. Even better produced than before, “From Refuge To Ruin” mainly continued the same line yet with another dimensions of harshness and inventiveness attached to its spinal cord.

When Lance King sent me this release, and I don’t know why, I immediately checked the lineup as if I knew what I would find. Frankly, I think that in my heart I already knew the answer that Jens Carlsson, the vocalist in the last two albums and one of my favorite new generation singers, left the band already in 2009 as he couldn’t handle the long miles apart when it came to live shows with the American outfit. As much as I was disappointed, as he provided a lot to the feeling behind DARK EMPIRE’s material, I could understand his motive and I respect it. After Carlsson’s departure, the band had a few runs with Urban Breed only to be replaced short after by a vocalist named Brian Larkin, who also performed a few times as a replacement for Carlsson while “Humanity Dethroned” was promoted. After I listened to his work on “From Refuge To Ruin” I must say that although it’s not the sharp edged voice of Carlsson, Larkin has some talent singing in a tough bastard like manner with almost no shred of suppleness. Due to the reason that “From Refuge To Ruin” is rather brutal in comparison to its previous number, his vocal pattern seemed suited like a glove.

I perceived “From Refuge To Ruin” as a little less catchier than “Humanity Dethroned”. Also Matt Moliti, in comparison to the past releases, took upon himself a lot of the vocal work that was manifested by his high and low end growls. As for the guitar work, both rhythm and lead, I think that passionate Moliti is an artist that always tries to find ways to perfect his creations but to also keep a certain flow so the listener would keep track on what is going on and especially be evident to the lyrical conception running up above the complex chords from the worlds of Power, Thrash and Death Metal and the wicked arrangements that wreaked havoc on their way to assault the mind. The rhythm section of Randy Knecht & Matt Graff, though didn’t strike me as that highly articulate as I thought at first, but still the level of their presentation was elevated enough for an enormous impression. “The Cleansing Fires”, the fourteen minutes emotional epic of what I captured as the fire that will sweep mankind in order to cleanse the land of its gruesomeness accustomed by the social decay. Sounds like Noah’s Ark no? Well this is my own deliberation. It is hard to describe in the words the musical conduct that this song is going through. All I can say that Moliti is a genius as he created a screen play of a drama with great music that both assault and pat. “Dreaming in Vengeance”, “What Men Call Hatred”, and “From Refuge to Ruin” touched me greatly with their messages of violence. Not preaching violence that should be a countermeasure against others, but about its horrors and how man his treating is friend or his surroundings. These three are the spearhead of the slap in the face, or call it a wakeup call, lead by an untamed aggression, amazing moments of melodies and solo sections that are no less than perfect.

I can only tell you one thing. There aren’t enough words to describe such a great release. It may not be catchy, but it is flowing and it will surly sweep you off your feet. It has its own extremities, and not always on the vocal section. Nearly all of Metal’s subgenres were conjured together for a full time progressive fest of impiety. Buy it now!!

4 Star Rating

1. A Plague in the Throne Room
2. Dreaming in Vengeance
3. The Crimson Portrait
4. Dark Seeds of Depravity
5. From Refuge to Ruin
6. Lest Ye Be Judged
7. What Men Call Hatred
8. Black Hearts Demise
9. The Cleansing Fires 
Brian Larkin- Vocals
Matt Moliti– Guitars / Growls
Randy Knecht– Bass
Matt Graff- Drums
Record Label: Nightmare Records


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