Darkest Era – ‘The Last Caress of Light’, Metal Blade; 2011

It feels tempting to string up comparisons to the current crop of neo-traditional metal of late with this album; yet at the same time it would be unfair to Irish newcomers Darkest Era. Not only do they stand out from the rest of the crowd, but they also deliver a consistent passion and aura of epic fables on debut release ‘The Last Caress of Light‘.

Similarities with viking-era Bathory can be heard throughout the music; and while that might be enough to gage audience attention, it is still not accurate enough to describe the record. Though an epic atmosphere runs as strong as it did for Bathory, Darkest Era opt for the route of Celtic mythology and folklore much like fellow countrymen Mael Mórdha, Cruachan and even Primordial. Yet without necessarily wearing out the same lyrical direction as these bands – a drawback with many on the Norse mythological side – the group manage to steer clear of this in approaching the main template of mixing metal with Irish folk melodies.

Part of this could be attributed to frontman Krum’s fresh-sounding vocals, which though soaring and majestic also draw in a grounded sense of vigour and awe which seem to be missing in much retro heavy metal of late. Another reason may also be that rather than bring in traditional folk instruments, Darkest Era stick with traditional metal and primarily focus on that for their songwriting.

The result is that ‘The Last Caress of Light‘ may well be evidence that the band live up to their label’s claims of delivering “intense emotional power and honesty”, for as a debut LP it certainly showcases a commitment to their craft as musicians and performers. All the same, since this is still a debut album it remains to be seen how else Darkest Era‘s Celtic Metal will grow and develop from their underground roots over to a wider platform.

 

7.5/10

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