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The Darkness - Last Of Our Kind

The Darkness
Last Of Our Kind
by Vladimir “Abir” Leonov at 12 July 2015, 9:37 PM

I got super thrilled stumbling upon a new release by THE DARKNESS after several years of ups and downs, yet sure enough to redefine the revival of a genre for long thought belonging to music history archives. Since their successful debut release back in 2003, the Brits of THE DARKNESS have kept loyal to their early childhood roots of 70’s hard rock and 80’s shimmering glam owing to the signature falsetto and the heroin androgynous rock star stage persona of the weirdo JUSTIN HAWKINS coupled with the crudely assertive guitar chords ringing a bell with those of ANGUS YOUNG of AC/DC, added to a steely rhythm section grooving along in answer. We’re all “yearners” to various degrees, then again THE DARKNESS’ thorough adherence to this virtual time machine delirium is quite impressive, with a few exceptions, such as ditching the obsolete AOR approach and the re-adoption of the single format concerning “Barbarian” - the first track – having as a layout a medieval tale by the fameux old storyteller, all while the vocals swing up and down in concord with the mighty 80s snares and keyboards versus the simple straightforward 70s chords. Striking how they bring you back in time and recapitulate a span of three decades, as the guitar further digs into the late 80s/early 90s during “Open Fire”, a MOTLEY CRÜE innuendo with which the 4/4 has never been this out of the ordinary! A considerable vocal load (if not a must) with backing vocals, and guitar riffs implemented here and there without intervening per se until the solo in a minimalistic guitar/bass/drum approach also exhibited on “Mudslide” – more relying on the rhythm section in a shift from country hints to the oriental touch in the solo before the drum blasts towards the end. A similar Americana spirit also pops up through the outstanding “Hammer & Tongs” when it comes to that scale, those vocals, that ultra stress on bass, that solo, that interesting southern rock-like main riff. The gem of the album? Maybe, as long as you’re listening to a joyful band delivering a bed of roses to your ears!

Still, another potential candidate to that title is undoubtedly the complex hardened blues rock “Roaring Waters” fiercely flaunting its unique melody scale and dazzling wailing, nothing less than what is expected from such a talented frontman. The guitar sled to the extremes yet is no hard work to replicate, and further sewed a swift and abrupt alternation between the groovy 4/4 and the hypnotic 6/8, making the instrumental work the main boast of the track par excellence. On the same page, “Always Had The Blues” joins the innumerable list of songs celebrating the genre, a generous boogie riff each time revisited differently with clever half seconds of drum-beat-only dead silence that make a heart skip a beat, not to forget the adrenaline-perfused “Messenger” which - despite its half-muted vocal track – constitutes one more testimony on the eccentric grey matter from which the band members’ brains are composed.

Ballads had their say on the record, from “Wheels Of The Machine”, the cheerful but forgettable power ballad for those who are in the mood, to “Sarah O’Sarah” as a typical bass and drum based track with a catchy slide solo, and that - apart from the overwhelming drums in the chorus, sounding like a break preceding a non-existing next bar that leaves you waiting for good - deserves a second listen mostly on your car radio while crossing a yielding prairie!

As one can figure out the various amount of influences and mostly develop a nuanced point of view about each track, it avers that some loopholes are inevitable in fillers like the overtly safe and generic “Conquerors” in a shift to alternative music that ended up drearily depending on vocals, as well as “Mighty Wings”, undeniably more captivating with time signature maneuvers and a pace in a steady rise and fall reminiscent of the mid-90s METALLICA’s altering penchants, despite the considerable vocal efforts combined with a bit of mystique and unpredictability, it can be sometimes be all over the place.

After all this lengthy technical analysis, shall we hit on the core matter? IS THE DARKNESS for real the last of their kind? The eponymous track takes a dissimilar path from the rest, flowing smoother till the extent of falling within the range of a bass-pillared ballad. Launched by a steel guitar, the signature hyper-nasal falsetto put hand in hand with the harmonic mid-tempoed solo to submerge you into suspense till the very last break, consequently the conclusion that despite the few mishaps, oozing and short tracks is all what it takes to mold a polyvalent record fusing what ranges from hard rock to root music and all the space between. As a matter of fact, the band didn’t stick to copying or re-producing antics, preferring a personal touch au premier plan. Last of their kind or not, we absolutely hope NOT!

3 Star Rating

1. Barbarian
2. Open Fire
3. Last Of Our Kind
4. Roaring Waters
5. Wheels Of The Machine
6. Mighty Wings
7. Mudslide
8. Sarah O’Sarah
9. Hammer & Tongs
10. Conquerors
11. Messenger (Bonus Track)
12. Always Had The Blues (Bonus Track)
Justin Hawkins - Vocals, Guitars
Dan Hawkins - Guitars
Frankie Poullain - Bass
Rufus Tiger Taylor - Drums
Record Label: Kobalt Label Services


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