Darkest Era – Severance (Cruz del Sur Music)

Monday, 2nd June 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Really, the next in line when it comes to Irish metal bands of significance, Darkest Era appeared to be on the high-profile up-and-up via 2011’s The Last Caress of Light, which was released by Metal Blade. Unfortunately, the pairing wasn’t meant to be, and the band moved onto dependable Italian indie Cruz del Sur Music for the release of Severance, their second album. For those unfamiliar with these gents (and singular lady), their sound is an adventurous, epic-metal rooted plunge that is somehow not power metal, but is equally as powerful. In essence, Darkest Era is the most unique and adventurous metal band to come out of Ireland since Primordial.

A lot of the spice and sparkle with Darkest Era comes from vocalist Krum, he of the hearty clean-voiced. To his credit, Mr. Krum doesn’t have a direct singer reference point; you can usually align any number of veteran clean singers with a relatively new one, but in this instance, there’s no takers. Krum’s well-enunciated and emotive vocals lead the charge throughout Severance’s eight cuts, with particular moments of notice coming by way of “Songs of Gods and Men,” “Trapped in the Hourglass,” and “Blood, Sand, and Stone,” a jam that contains a wide range of the man’s vocal breadth. Better yet, he is a master of pitch, ever an underrated quality among clean vocalists.

Some of the album’s more punchy and mobile moments (i.e. “The Serpent and the Shadow” instantly comes to mind) is Darkest Era’s bread and better, where the crossroads of homespun Irish metal meets up with the festival ready pomp and romp of mainland Europe. And that’s the defining trait of Severance, an album that has a stockade of finely-tuned melodies and the occasional bout of melancholy to top it off. DR has a long-standing relationship with the fine folks at Metal Blade, but their loss is obviously Cruz del Sur’s – and everyone else’s gain.

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