Friday, July 11, 2014

Darkest Era (U.K.): Severance (Cruz del Sur)

Darkest Era (U.K.): Severance (Cruz del Sur)
Every person has their individual way of hearing music, certainly, but the case of Darkest Era (Northern Ireland) seems a bit more perplexing than usual because the terms “Celtic metal” and “folk metal” have been utilized in relation to the band. Yet, I have no idea whatsoever as to why anyone would call this music “folk metal.” All I hear is traditional, melodic heavy metal, featuring a strong quality of melodic doom, contrasted with segments of uptempo energy. The category “folk metal,” to me, means old Skyclad, Cruachan, In Extremo, Korpiklaani, Eluveitie and other such entities with violins, bagpipes, accordions and other traditional instruments that underline the music with melodies of a particular tradition, time, culture or region.
Perhaps for the Irish listener, or an expert, the lyrics seem very Irish, but to the non-specialist, the lyrics simply are heavy metal storytelling; lyrics alone do not constitute a genre. Again: Darkest Era is a traditional heavy metal band, through and through: at least on this album, there is nothing—nothing at all—having to do with beer-drinking happy polka, Oktoberfest, humppa party tunes, or musicians dressed in furry boots.
Specifically, the sound of Darkest Era is characterized by a sense of traditional, melodic doom; sometimes the songs go at a midpace; frequently, the melancholy in the vocals is impossible to disassociate from doom. Still, that is not all there is: in part, it’s solemn music, but it’s also headbanging metal. The melody comes from two primary places: the singing and the guitar work. It is commendable, in my view, that Darkest Era avoids clichéd melodies. The melodies can sound somber, even though, overall, Darkest Era is most definitely not slow music. It could be that the melodies originate, consciously or subconsciously, from a combination of Thin Lizzy and traditional doom (Candlemass? 80s Sabbath?), if you can imagine those classic guitar melodies of Thin Lizzy and melodic doom tinged with melancholy. In addition, Darkest Era’s use of sad, midpaced tremolo works wonders for the vibe of the songs. Of course, if the band has, in fact, borrowed traditional Irish melodies, I am not qualified to identify them; if so, then, my point is that those melodies do not sound “folky,” happy or sweet, but rather somber and/or melancholic.
By the way, the singing is so good that I am curious about Dwayne “Krum” Maguire’s live performance. Can Krum really sing this well live? People who have seen this band live can answer that question. I hope that one day I get to find out for myself. At any rate, the album is highly recommended for supporters of traditional metal, talent and good songwriting.
www.darkestera.net
www.facebook.com/darkestera
Darkest Era - Beyond The Grey Veil (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

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