Clad in full body armour and makeup, upon first glance one would think that Brisbane’s Darklore would play epic Power Metal, but as soon as I hit play on their debut album “The Evil of Man” I realized this was far from the truth. Their sound reminding me more of that raw sound of those symphonic Black Metal bands from the early ’90s.
I am a sucker for epic atmospheres in my metal, especially if they are part of good songs, and I am pleased to report that Darklore delivers a worthy (if lengthy I will admit, the album clocking over 70 min) collection of songs in “The Evil of Man”. All the elements are there: immersive keyboards, blistering beats and riffs, throat-ripping vocals, and beautifully composed instrumental sections, which will take you on a journey across mythical lands, dark keeps and frozen mountains. Darklore takes lyrical inspiration from high-fantasy literary pieces like “The Lord of the Rings” and “A Song of Fire and Ice”, so if you like that kind of stuff, you’re in for a treat.
The album opens with “Retribution”, a delightful Dungeon Synth-style intro that perfectly sets the atmosphere for the epic tales to come, and quickly takes us to “The White Hand”, an intense and soaring song that is one of the album highlights in my personal opinion, perfectly combining raw aggression with hypnotic atmospheres, and then goes into “The Ravens Return”, another great track that manages to keep the intensity of the opener. Other highlights of the album are “Castle Black”, a track where they exchange intensity for a more heroic melody, with its earworm of a keyboard lead that will haunt your brain for a while after you stopped listening to it, and “Wings of Fire” with its constant mood changes that work perfectly to create another great track.
However, not everything in this album is perfect. Personally, I find that Darklore is at its finest when they play faster, creating a contrast of raw aggression with deep atmospheres in the background, as opposed to their lengthier slower tracks, that sometimes can fall in a somewhat repetitive pattern, making an already long album drag even longer. This is particularly evident in the last half of the album, where there are 3 songs that together clock more than 30 min. And even though the 15 min.-long closing track “Curse of Frostmourne” is a highlight and a very well composed epic track, I feel that the previous song doesn’t need to be that long in order to convey an atmosphere that they know they can create in shorter and more concise tracks.
Technically this is a very well achieved collection of tracks considering it was self-released. The musicians are clearly good with their instruments and that translates into their music. However I do feel that some tracks had more technical finessing done to them than others, and while I would have loved being able to listen to the bass a bit more, and an occasional blistering guitar solo (especially to break the aforementioned longer and more repetitive parts of the album), “The Evil of Man” is a very promising effort from a young band that definitely makes me very interested about what they will deliver next.
Album highlights: The White Hand, Wings of Fire, Curse of Frostmourne, Castle Black
For fans of: early Dimmu Borgir, Darkenhold, 1st-Era Mortiis, Summoning
Release Year: 2020
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra