DarkTribe The Modern Age 01It’s difficult to shake the feeling that among all of metal’s subgenres, power metal remains the one that refuses to grow up, stuck forever in an adolescent state. Barring a few bands, the power metal scene might as well still be living in the middle of the nineties, when StratovariusVisions had just been released, Nightwish were kind of relevant, and Symphony of Enchanted Lands, by that Italian band that used to be known simply as Rhapsody, lurked around the corner. Like I said, simpler times. In that context, the sophomore release The Modern Age by French metallers DarkTribe fits right in.

Their music, basically run-of-the-mill european, ridiculously melodic power metal, is not simply imbued with nostalgia nor retro leanings, but is completely frozen in time, trafficking in somewhat modernised, but generally tired idioms that lost their “cool” factor a long, long time ago. Couple that with naïve lyrics about the awful things humankind does to nature, suitable for an episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and things start looking dire. Almost like a Michael Bay movie, it’s music that comes off as all explosions and no substance, but with a loyal audience always wanting more. Too bad though, because the musicians are obviously talented and as some tracks prove, they can craft some interesting riffs and truly catchy bangers. Still, a slight sense of progress exists, especially where the quality of songwriting is concerned, since The Modern Age is a better record than their début, Mysticeti Victoria.

With the negatives out of the way, there’s enough to be enjoyed here. Sure, it’s cheesy as hell and over the top, but where would the fun be with those traits? Aside from a few missteps like the instrumental intro “Humanizer” with its annoying orchestrations, the tepid ballad “Holy Water Day,” or the cheesiness-turned-up-to-eleven on “No Train to Earth,” the material is catchy, somewhat progressive and full of dramatic solos (“My Last Odyssey”). While the band never shies too far away from happy, lighthearted metal, it’s those instances in which they become darker and brooding, like during “The Modern Age,” “Wild Call,” or “Darkside Of Imagination,” that work best. Even the obvious pop melodies and Eurosong tendencies exhibited on songs such as “A Last Will” end up tolerable since they’re encrusted in multiple layers of warm, heavy sounding guitars.

DarkTribe The Modern Age 02Unfortunately, that same multilayered presence has a suffocating effect on the music when everything gets busy, causing the little details to get crushed and smeared. That’s not to say that the mixing and mastering under the hammer of Jacob Hansen is bad, quite the contrary. Disregarding the artifacts that can be attributed to the low bitrate (160 kbps) of the mp3s we’ve received, the production is actually pleasant, with an emphasis put on the best elements of DarkTribe’s sound – guitars and vocals. Vocalist Anthony Agnello really delivers the goods here, even if he sounds familiar and incites a sense of déjà vu. The rest of the band also put in a strong showing and manage to show off their admirable chops without sounding like they’re actually showing off.

While passable, The Modern Age fits so many stereotypes it actually hurts. However, this record is intended for those who enjoy high fructose syrupy sounds, regardless of how bad they are for one’s health. If you fit that description, this is an album you should hear. Considering how much of an improvement this is to earlier releases, let’s hope DarkTribe can create something even better next time.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Scarlet Records
Websites: DarkTribeOfficial | Facebook.com/DarkTribe
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 07.21.2015

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  • RagE

    Well, This is certainly different from the German Darktribe..

    • Roquentin

      What if I told you I thought I was reviewing that Dark Tribe? ;-)

      I kid, but Dark Tribe (two words) is certainly better.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    hmmmm tick tick tick..I know you guys set up the forum as a means to stop whinging and whining here but….Isn’t it about time Chaos Magic got legs/boots of the month!

  • brutal_sushi

    Im diggin it.

  • BaboonKing

    Going by the linked song, I’m inclined to agree with your overall assessment, it sounds pretty average. That said, I can’t help making a (constructrive!) criticism. From your recent “In Vaults” review:

    “Ah yes, progressive metal/rock, the genre with one of the worst palatable-to-garbage ratios and a catalyst that often makes gifted musicians churn out forgettable pieces of music that serve no purpose other than to act as vessels of said instrumental talents.”

    And then, here:

    “It’s difficult to shake the feeling that among all of metal’s subgenres, power metal remains the one that refuses to grow up, stuck forever in an adolescent state. Barring a few bands, the power metal scene might as well still be living in the middle of the nineties”

    I don’t think these sweeping, condescending statements help your reviews. If you don’t like a genre, that’s totally fine, of course, but it’s not a valid critique point for a particular band or album. For example, I can’t stomach most extreme metal; what would you think if I wrote a review for a mediocre death metal band and derided it for its lack of melody and clean vocals? ;)

    • Roquentin

      Constructive criticism is always appreciated! Thanks!
      But:
      a) I like/love prog and power, I follow the scene rather closely and I listen to it often.

      b) The first quote is a direct result of a). I’ve heard so many prog bands that are inexplicably bland and whose albums end up being showcases for their playing technique. It’s just my opinion (or feeling?) that there’s a bigger share of bad albums in these genres than in metal in general. It’s an opinion to be taken lightly since it’s based on personal experience and not on peer-reviewed research or relevant statistics. I might be completely off the mark and I also agree that it’s generally better to stray away from such statements to avoid being misunderstood. I think I’ve used up that particular shtick anyways.

      c) I ended up (moderately) praising District 97’s album, didn’t I? The quote you cite from that review was used as counterexample.

      d) As far as the second quote is concerned, there was a line in the review that got edited out in which I implied that being “frozen in time” is part of power metal’s very nature. Often silly, over the top, and grandiose – it should be all of those things! That’s actually not something I’d hold against an album (hell, I like the new Rhapsody quite a bit). It’s just that DarkTribe’s music feels very, in your words, “average,” rehashed and uninspired.

      e) Summa summarum: I’ve tried to judge both District 97’s and DarkTribe’s albums against aesthetic standards of their own genres.

      Thanks again for the criticism, though. I appreciate it.

      • BaboonKing

        Thanks a lot for your in depth, reasoned reply. And for your reviews, too! Even if I took issue with those two statements, it would be terribly unjust to focus solely on the negative; those are two very solid pieces of writing, so thank you, and keep them coming! :)

        • Roquentin

          Thank you for the kind words!
          Do we hug now? ;-)

          • BaboonKing

            :P

    • Neb Bojer

      And why does every power metal review have to start with a disclaimer? “Sure, it’s cheesy as hell and over the top, but..”.
      Anyway, I enjoyed the linked song.

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Great album cover artwork though (a logo fix would help even more)

  • Vice-President of Hell

    power metal is still gay?

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Explain yourself.

      • Roquentin

        Gay is okay!

  • Cnaiür urs Skiötha

    Late to the party but just discovered your review. I know music is always a matter of taste but I think 2.5 is a bit harsh.
    Mysticeti Victoria has been quite a decent album. I liked it more than most other outputs in the genre that year but it has some issues with regard to songwriting and vocals. In the end it was solid but nothing spectacular.
    However, The Modern Age is one of the best efforts the genre has to offer. The shortcomings have been solved. Nearly each track is a winner and the songwriting feels much more grown-up. It is of course still traditional Power Metal but they moved a bit away from the cheese corner.
    Vocals have improved a lot. The production (although not bad at all at Mysticeti Victoria) is top-notch here. Clear and powerful.
    I am a big Power Metal fan and I do not really understand why some bands like Powerwolf, Sabaton, Dragonforce etc. get all the attention when there are releases like this which are so much more interesting.

  • Jiří Všetíček

    Totally underrated!! I don’t understand this low rating.