Darkest Era_SeveranceSometimes an album hits you just right and the only words that really seem to fit are “convincing, authentic and WOW.” That’s exactly what happened to me upon spinning Darkest Era‘s latest opus Severance. Though this Irish epic metal act was hitherto unknown to me, their cunning mixture of Primordial, doom and black metal instantly knocked me for a loop and now I’m a loyal convert to the cause (read as fanboy). Somber, passionate, dramatic and moving, the music is loaded with rich emotions and though it has deep roots in doom and epic metal, it isn’t slow or boring due to the accelerated tempos and frequent injections of blackened riffing. It’s a tough sound to describe, but if you imagine Primordial‘s To the Nameless Dead and Atlantean Kodex in a head on collision, with Immortal hovering around the wreckage making funny faces and wrestling poses, then you’re on the right track, and what a track it is! This one is something special, folks.

As soon as opener “Sorrow’s Boundless Realm” gets going, you know something good is afoot. Acoustic strumming quickly gives way to big, burly doom riffing, which in turn is swapped out for blackened thrash chaos before Krum’s powerful and commanding vocals seize control and lead you into a huge chorus. There’s a Primordial vibe to the music and Krum does at times channel the manly rasp of A. A. Nemtheanga, but they take that sound to new and interesting places more closely aligned to epic doom. As openers go, it doesn’t get much better than this and it’s a dead ringer for Best Song of 2014.

The big hits just keep tumbling down from Valhalla, with the odd combination of battle hymn, folk song and drinking anthem that is “Songs of Gods and Men,” the Thin Lizzy meets Slough Feg and  Argus badassery of “The Serpent and the Shadow,” and the rich melancholy of “Beyond the Grey Veil.” Another big standout is “Trapped in the Hourglass,” which mixes chest thumping epic metal, Maiden-ish gallops and Immortal-esque riffing lifted right from “Tyrant.” The way they blend these disparate styles so seamlessly is nothing short of stunning.

Darkest Era_2014Not a moment feels unnecessary and nary a trace of filler can be found. Even the lengthy closer “Blood, Sand and Stone” impresses with its martial energy, somber moods and stirring vocal work. At a crisp 44 minutes, this is one of the rare albums I wish was longer because it’s just that good.

While you can easily play pinpoint the influences with the riffing, the nods to Maiden and Thin Lizzy sit alongside heavy doses of blackened riffery, and it’s that dichotomy that really sets their sound apart. The material also manages to retain that oddly distinctive “Celtic sound” without resorting to tin whistles or other common tropes. Even the Primordial vibe is generally understated and no one will walk away thinking Darkest Era is a clone or homage band.

The riffing may be key, but it’s Krum’s vocal performance that seals the deal and makes Severance such a revelation. The man has pipes, but doesn’t over sing. He delivers emotional moments without seeming overdramatic and most importantly, he sounds fucking good! His tone and timber is righteous and drop dead perfect for this kind of large scale music. In short, he rules, especially on the choruses.

As a bitter, jaded reviewer who lives to bitch about anything and everything, I kept digging for faults and shortcomings, and aside from an average production, there isn’t much here to complain about. Classy, compelling and catchy from start to finish, Severance is a shiny jewel in the yearly mulch pile of metal. A big frontrunner for Album of the Year, you miss it at your peril and eternal shame (and the same goes for their debut The Last Caress of Light). Find this.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Cruz Del Sur Records
Websites: darkestera.net | facebook.com/darkestera
Release Dates:  EU: 2014.06.13 | NA: 06.03.2014

  • brutal_sushi

    Wow, these guys have been on my “Shit To Listen To” for a bit… Time to change that… This is killer!

  • RU63

    The linked song sounds good.

  • RyanM1985

    The linked song is fucking awesome, I’m rolling out that overused word, epic. Love this.

  • Zadion

    The fact that Primordial gets referenced as influence 4 times and Atlantean Kodex only once is a deep shame based on the embedded video, because that song sweats what I love so much from the last Atlantean Kodex album. Checking this out for sure.

    • And yet there’s more of a Primordial vibe than an Atlantean Kodex vibe on most songs. Quit yer whining!

      • nunka

        I agree, but mostly because Primordial doesn’t put me to sleep in 10 seconds flat and this band is actually pretty good.

        …”Atlantean Kodex is boring as fuck” is what I’m trying to say. And yes, I will point that out every chance I get. :D

        • I got bored to tears with Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, and I get pumped as fuck just by hearing the first chorus of Sol Invictus.

          “Music appreciation is subjective as fuck” is what I’m trying to say.

          • nunka

            Oh, don’t mind me. I just harbor an irrational hatred for those dirty Kodexians.

          • I’m actually not a huge fan.

          • Zadion

            I’m with you there. The only Primordial album I like much is To the Nameless Dead, and I only rated it a 3.5.

            That Atlantean Kodex album, on the other hand, ended up being my album of the year.

          • doom-erik

            The White Goddess was album of the year for me too, and their debut was the best album of 2010 as well.

          • There are traces of While Heaven Wept too.

        • You’re a terrible person.

          • nunka

            Yessssss, feed me your hate! I will turn it into metal.

      • It’s absolutely the vocalist.

  • RyanM1985

    Spotify only has the first album but it sounds amazing too and they’re from my neck of the woods, maybe I’ll get to see them live.

  • Alex Skevo

    Glad to see AMG review this band. They need more publicity to receive the recognition they deserve. Cant wait for this one.

  • A 4.5! that’s like a 10/10 from anywhere else in the Internets. Speaking of which, will we get a best of April list? I know Triptykon dominated everywhere, and I personally loved Tekeli-li from The Great Old Ones that sadly didn’t got a review here, but I still wanna check if I may missed something else.

    • Yep, we will gin one up this weekend. We are delinquent.

      • Good stuff! Hopefully many dishes will be thrown.

        • We use paper plates at AMG since the…unpleasantness.

          • RU63

            paper-cuts hurt too.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great review, definitely going to pick this one up.
    Sounds like it’ll go nicely with the Avatarium record which I’ve only just discovered, and have been mercilessly hammering,

  • Ernesto Aimar

    Primordial+Atlantean….great way to see the magnificence of these guys! I love their debut album, that epic doomy atmosphere, the maidenesque guitar attacks and that amazing singer! Can’t wait to hear this new album!

  • doom-erik

    Great song, looking forward to hear the whole album. And I don’t hear that much Atlantean Kodex, but there sure is a lot of Primordial imo.

  • Grymm

    Such an amazing record.

    Now if they would just with Primordial… *WHISTLES*

  • Ken Hagdal

    The new song does sound promising.