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Darkest Era - "The Last Caress of Light" (CD)

Darkest Era - "The Last Caress of Light" CD cover image

"The Last Caress of Light" track listing:

1. The Morrigan (5:57)
2. An Ancient Fire Burns (6:04)
3. Beneath the Frozen Sky (7:50)
4. Heathen Burial (7:02)
5. Visions of the Dawn (7:44)
6. To Face the Black Tide (8:29)
7. Poem to the Gael (4:16)
8. The Last Caress of Light Before the Dark (11:00)

Reviewed by on February 16, 2011

"...the band certainly has the heart for Irish blackened pagan/folk rock, and has crafted a fine debut long player."

Darkest Era is a black/pagan/doom/folk amalgamation from Ireland, so the Primordial comparisons immediately stab us in the eye. But it gets weirder – the bands share a label (Metal Blade) and a release date for both of their new albums (February 15). So we’d better get this comparison done before karma or the universe or the Dagda strike us down, so here it is: Darkest Era is less black/pagan and more folk/rock than Primordial, and certainly less polished than the Irish metal vets. But Darkest Era has the potential to have a similarly successful career.

Album opener “The Morrigan” showcases everything good and bad about Darkest Era. Krum’s vocals are all clean, and in places are both well done (the lower register verses) and stretched out (his high end isn’t that high, and he has a tough time holding notes). The song itself has a great hook, but is pretty long for a one-trick melody and gets stale. The crescendos are fantastic, but the half-counted tempos from drummer Lisa Howe let all the steam out of the kettle.

So “The Last Caress of Light” is a hit and miss affair with the details, but the bigger picture is quite good. The album as a whole has a great vibe. These five folks have spent many nights in the Irish forests, gathering tales of hardship, triumph, wonder and tragedy, and they are here to serenade us with that majesty. From the jaunty attitude of “The Morrigan,” to the slowly depressing lilt of “Heathen Burial” and the subdued elation of the title track, we get the full emotional journey in just under an hour. “The Last Caress of Light” is a single, cohesive set of songs, and the Irish melodies, be it in straight acoustic folk bits or woven into blackened or doomed riffs, keep us at the heart of the Emerald Isle.

Primordial has been at it for quite some time and have worked out all the kinks. Darkest Era, on the other hand, still needs some seasoning in specifics. But the band certainly has the heart for Irish blackened pagan/folk rock, and has crafted a fine debut long player. I am sure “The Last Caress of Light” captures the exact essence the band intended, and these stories would fit on a large summer festival stage or in a small pub corner. Slainte indeed.

Highs: The title track is a long, rambling, fantastic piece of Irish blackened folk.

Lows: Krum’s vocals have a tough time holding the higher and longer melodies.

Bottom line: Despite the tough Primordial comparisons, this is a fine debut album from an Irish black/pagan/folk outfit.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)