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Dark Age - "Acedia" (CD)

Dark Age - "Acedia" CD cover image

"Acedia" track listing:

1. Kingdom Nevercome (4:32)
2. Devote Yourself To Nothing (4:06)
3. Neon Gardens (4:22)
4. Snake Of June (4:03)
5. Zeitgeist (Ghost In A Machine) (3:15)
6. 10 Steps To Nausea (3:37)
7. Halo Meridian (4:20)
8. Underneath These Burdens (4:32)
9. All The Unfulfilled (3:35)
10. Babylon Riots (3:18)
11. Myself Heretic (4:16)

Reviewed by on February 6, 2010

"As a metal album it completely fails."

Dark Age is a surprisingly little known German melodic death metal band. The only problem is that one part of that sentence isn’t true. They are German, and they are surprisingly little known (particularly in the States), so they must not be melodic death metal. Listening to their most recent release, “Acedia,” that suspicion is confirmed. They may be alt-metal, or alt-rock, but certainly not any type of death metal.

Album opener and presumably lead single “Kingdom Nevercome” is straight from Top 40 rock radio. Simple repeated chords, simple percussive rhythm, and electronics all over the place brand it right off the top. The death metal vocals of Eike Freese last for about ten seconds, and aren’t very death-y (he should really clear his throat), then the good guy clean vocals come in. Here Freese sounds like a backwards-hat college kid crooning about how sensitive he is. Then the chorus hook comes, and it might as well have been written 10 years ago by Blink 182.

As with most standard rock fare, the album continues in the way for all eleven songs. Electronics and keyboards dominate the arrangements, Freese really only gets a handful of really good growls in, and the guitars are mostly a mush of distorted chords that carry a vague melody. Oh, and there are more hooks than a long-haul fishing boat.

Now none of these things in and of themselves are bad. Catchy music is fine (I have positively reviewed quite a bit of it), standard rock is fine, and clean vocals are fine. There are some great bands that have all these characteristics in abundance. The problem here are expectations – Dark Age and label AFM sell them as a melodic death metal band, and they sell it hard. The press kit is littered with phrases like “Dark Age was at that point one of the most independent bands in the harder sector of metal.” If by “harder sector of metal” AFM really means “harder alt-rock bands” then yes, I agree. But metal? No way.

This strategy has paid off, as Dark Age has played Wacken Open Air and has gotten good reviews from metal publications. And they have a good relationship with their fans. Again, fantastic, but it just isn’t metal. Where are the soul-scorched shrieks, the heavy crunch, the searing solos, the haunting melodies? They are all the way on the last song, “Myself Heretic.” Some layered guitar riffs and leads, extended raspy vocals, more insistent drumming and an overall more aggressive songwriting style make a pretty good song. But it takes ten doses of angry-alt-sugar to finally get there.

Dark Age has taken some melodic death metal elements and added them to their rock formula, and as a rock album this is a pretty successful formula and the music works. But as a metal album it completely fails.

Highs: “Myself Heretic” is the best metal song on the album.

Lows: The album gets old fast, with the hooks, easy songs and clean vocal whine.

Bottom line: An alternative rock album sold as metal, and it fails as metal.

Rated 1.5 out of 5 skulls
1.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)