A lot of (incorrect) people write off The Darkness as a gimmicky, falsetto filled, catsuit donning joke. Those people will promptly be eating their words upon listening to their fourth album, The Last of Our Kind, which easily takes its place behind Permission to Land as the best album to come from the band.
Now I know that we’re technically a metal site and The Darkness are lodged in the world of rock but I believe we’re fully justified in reviewing the latest album for the following reasons. A) It has songs about Vikings, Vikings are metal as fuck. Amon Amarth taught us that B) sweet, sweet riffs C) it’s “significant rock-based music of exceptional quality” and finally, D) I will review anything with song titles such as Barbarian, Open Fire, Wheels of the Machine, Hammer & Tongs, Roaring Waters and Conquerors.
By now many of you will have heard the opening numbers of Last of our Kind; Barbarian and Open Fire with both having videos. While Open Fire takes on a bouncy Cult feel, Barbarian is the slow, meaty intro to the album. It’s almost a strange choice for an opener as it’s a slower track, yet it fits the spirit of Last of Our Kind perfectly. The whole album is a bit slower, a bit meatier, a lot darker and a lot more riffy than The Darkness we previously knew. You’ll also notice that Justin Hawkins restrains his highs much more, so when he hits them he makes them count.
Video for Barbarian.. Like we said, Vikings = Metal, therefore The Darkness = Metal. Basic math.
The riffs come at you like a wave, Roaring Waters has a glorious breakdown not to mention the main riff, Mudslide has the sleazy riff of an Extreme song, Barbarian has the dirty slides and Mighty Wings is a riff factory.
Mighty Wings will genuinely make you forget who you’re listening to briefly. A riff worthy of a good headbang leads us into an upbeat verse full of guitar harmonies. The real treat comes in the pre-solo section (and solo section obviously), easily song of the album. If this is the new face of The Darkness then I couldn’t be happier.
With all this talk of riffs it would be easy to forget the leads and licks. Despite being a cleaner song, Sarah O’Sarah’s intro lick has a certain Paul Gilbert sounding flair to it along with the bass driven title track having a joyous little guitar widdle section.
Despite the band playing in smaller venues than they once did, Wheels of the Machine still has the room from big wide armed stadium claps and that has always been a hallmark of The Darkness. Every album has that song for clapping, or jumping or singing along, or any form of interaction really.
We have our riffs, we have our solos, we have our clap along and headbang moments. The only other vital component is a catchy chorus. While Last of our Kind isn’t the same sort of beast as the previous albums, it still has choruses to stick in your head. Hammer & Tongs, a Stones style rock tune will be rattling around your head along with the title track and Conquerors.
Conquerors is the surprise of the album, I won’t spoil it here but I sincerely hope this ends up in the setlists for the upcoming tour. As you listen to it, you can’t help but feel this is the album that should have come out following Permission to Land. On the other hand, it’s taken a lot to get here; a decade of practise and hard work has paid off. The song writing is strong, the playing is strong and the songs themselves are strong and by all reports, the band just weren’t in a place to produce something like this back then. It’s worth the wait anyway.
The Johan beard review scale is generally saved for Viking Metal bands, but we’ll make an excpetion today.
The Last of Our Kind is out now, find the band here on Facebook to keep updated with tours dates and more.
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