Dark Design – Prey for the Future (Heaven and Hell Records)

Sunday, 25th August 2013
Rating: 8/10

Active since 2008 and finally unleashing a debut album, North Carolina’s Dark Design performs in one of those tough sell genres of metal: progressive power/thrash. You know the type: musicianship is of the highest order on all fronts, the rhythm section isn’t afraid to bust out technical bursts or time signature manipulations, and the vocalist somehow has to match the flurry (and fury) while making sense.

Prey For the Future has a number of strengths, starting with the guitar duo of Mike Joyner and Ray Lewis. These axe slingers have spent much of their early years honing their chops into a tight fit- as their hands and fingers blaze with “Phantom of the Opera” spider web dexterity on “No Death,” while the point/counterpoint rhythm and lead work in “Meditations” will thrill most neo-classical thrash mavens. Drummer Robbie Mercer gains the spotlight in the tribal overtures that open another highlight “Abiding Contempt,” an arrangement that ebbs and flows with straightforward verse riffs and progressive changes during the bridge work while vocalist Andrew Bertrand channels a great mix of Rob Lowe, Matt Barlow, and Ronnie James Dio in his melodies.

I hear within their sound some of the twistedness of their home state’s Confessor, along with a love for King Diamond, early Fates Warning, and possibly Toxik. Tackling the AM-Radio acoustic super hit of the 70’s from Kansas “Dust in the Wind” and transforming it into an up-tempo metal effort on paper sounds eerie, but works due to a willingness to shift from acoustic to electric work as well as multi-part vocal harmonies from the entire band. All those who tire of paint by numbers thrash or power, seek out Dark Design, as their performance and songwriting is outstanding.

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