Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ABSOLON: "Darkness Rising"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Liquid Tree 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Very metal, very metal indeed. Ambitious work by Absolon from Orlando, Florida, USA. They have gone over the top and beyond with their debut concept album based upon the saga/tale of the average musician that sold his soul to the devil to be big. We've seen it all before with 'Crossroads' which was basically the famed story of the 1930's R&B guitarist. The tale of Derek Blackheart, however, coming in at just under one hour and with a total of 16 metal tracks, Darkness Rising is a concept CD and tells the story of a young man, Blackheart, who sells his soul for fame and riches. He gets what he desires and, after years of being the biggest Metal artist in the world, Derek decides he wants out. He takes his own life, only to find that even in death there is no escape from what he has done.

Let there be an lesson for all you metal heads. There is no escaping the dark master, even in death. Ouch. No rest for the wicked. I've been playing this for several weeks now and there's always something new to discover and pin-point. Are we impressed? Very much so as this could have been a top-selling metal album if released in 1985 and it's certainly a highlight of the metal year of 2013. It's old school U.S. heavy metal in the vein of Queensryche, Fates Warning, Sacred Warrior, Crimson Glory, and at times UK's Iron Maiden. Very impressive stuff and vocalist Ken Pike is previously known from 80's acts Vital Signs (cult AOR) and Malachia. You may also recognize their keyboardist/producer David Mikael from MPG (cult 80s Pomp) and he's done a great but hardly perfect job behind the mixing desk. Well, it's perfect for those into the 80s sound and production.

Very much a concept album 'ala Operation Mindcrime and the story is nicely displayed throughout the whole album. Musically, it's perhaps more towards 'The Warning' and 'Rage For Order' as it's slightly primitive metal and not quite as high-tech as Mindcrime. Pike is no sky-high vocalist 'ala Tate in his heydays as he sings in a lower set, frame, mode (much like Tate nowadays). However, he's a top notch performer and vocalist as he manage to take the music to the next level. I really can't pick any favourite tracks as they're all part of the big picture. There's a couple of duff moments amongst the 16 tracks but overall -very nice. Marvelous keyboards and orchestration by Mikael and crunchy guitarwork by Ed Dumas and Pike. It's old skool - it's heavy - it's metal.

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