Thursday, January 27, 2011

Darkness - Conclusion & Revival (1989)

Darkness were hardly one of the forerunners in the Teutonic thrash scene, but their debut at least offered a modicum of success in biting off the style of bigger, better bands. Not the case for their sophomore Defenders of Justice, an album that was the very definition of mediocrity. Apparently, some of the members must have felt the same way, because their third and final studio effort, Conclusion & Revival features a new vocalist in Rolf Druschel, who had a more manic sound that occasionally reminds me of Joey Belladonna with a bit more bark to him. They also picked up a new bassist, Timo Oehlke, who is featured more prominently in the compositions, with a loud tone that rivals the guitar through most of the heavier tunes.

Conclusion & Revival is a strange beast, and for at least a sizable chunk of the album, the band seem to be suffering an identity crisis. You've got some average, pummeling thrash tunes like "The Omniscient", "Soldiers" and "Price of Fame" which are just flooded with bass plucking and thin but serviceable riffs that feel busier than they are distinct; then the band also veers into a more mean heavy/speed metal vibe on "Burial", "Under Control", the latter featuring some synths and a proggish, interesting chorus. But some of the band's experiments go a little to far, in that they must have been jokes that only the band found funny: "Faded Pictures" begins like some mockery of bad 80s pop, with dopey vocals, pitch shifted squeals and terrible bass funk. By the time it goes metal (and decently), I was already phasing out. "All Left to Say" is 4 and a half minutes of bar room blues, which gets ridiculous once Ray starts screaming. There are some other wasted moments here, like the slap/pop bass intro to "Burial", and the synth opener to the album which is like a bad 80s horror score with no worthwhile payoff.

The production to the LP doesn't help, for as I mentioned, the bass is a wee bit loud here. It's apparent that they wanted to show some of Timo's skills off, but as good as he is, it just doesn't make for a compelling mix. The vocals are fairly weak throughout, not even to the level of the guy's predecessor Oliver Fernickel, and the whole affair feels like a train about to crash. If I'm going to give it any credit at all, it's that somehow, despite the many faults, it's at least more interesting than Defenders of Justice, which was flatline boring. I found myself scratching my head to this a number of times, and not because it's all so hideous. Darkness had found a fairly unique sound, but they would have really needed to polish it up and present functional songs for it to fly off the handle. (Not so) sadly, it just wasn't going to happen, and this was goodbye.

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10]

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