Dark Lunacy – Devoid

Ah, so THIS is the band that Diablo Swing Orchestra is stealing everything from! Seriously, if you don’t notice the incredible resemblance within the first thirty seconds of ‘Dolls’, there’s probably something seriously wrong with your inner ear, so please stop reading this review and go see an ear/nose/throat specialist right now. Shoo. For those still reading, Dark Lunacy’s music resembles Diablo Swing Orchestra’s really only on that one song, but the resemblance is so powerful it’s hard to ignore. Aside from that, the music is fairly straight-up gothic/melodic death metal with an emphasis on a certain symphonic edge that forms the central point of the band’s music. It’s rather traditional in aim, actually: there are some blast beats and growled vocals, but musically this has much more in common with Iron Maiden than Morbid Angel. The delivery of everything is actually quite gentle, even though you can describe this as ‘melodic death metal’: the tempo is fairly midpaced throughout most of it, the melodies are very logical and poppy, etc. It’s music specifically meant to be enjoyed (not that there’s anything wrong with that necessarily).

Anyway, I like this quite a bit even if I do find it somewhat pretentious. Much like the later Diablo Swing Orchestra, Dark Lunacy is a band that wants you to think that it’s much more complex than it really is. ‘Devoid’ is really very simple music: it just has a lot of layers of sound giving it a sort of artificial layer of complexity, even if none of those sounds are very different from each other. It’s actually rather similar to Dimmu Borgir (in structure, not aesthetic): there’s a lot of things going on, but only one of them at a time is doing anything of real melodic or rhythmic intricacy, and everything else is just chugging away in the background. Most of the riffs are simple, power metalish tremolo power chord affairs, and they generally just plug away at the root notes of the piano/violin/horn/whatever symphonic effect is being used at the moment. It’s not bad, it’s just really simple and poppy. Drums are pretty much drilling away at double bass/blasting/rock beats throughout the whole thing, but they’re clearly not an emphasized part of this very melodic music. Vocals are just there to communicate lyrics: growls, screams, and occasional whispers are used, and they’re effective, if rather familiar. Really, this sounds like exactly the sort of thing Nuclear Blast would put out. Take that for what you will.

The melodies, though, are very nice. As other reviewers have said, they have a sort of Russian folk sound to them; odd coming from an Italian artist, but enjoyable nonetheless. The synthestra that’s employed is very well used and meshes well with the guitars. The obvious, overwhelming emphasis is on the symphonic elements, with other instruments frequently dropping out for a purely orchestral interlude. Not a bad technique, though it does get somewhat overused, as if the band keeps needing to reaffirm to you that, yes, there are orchestral instruments (or sounds, more likely) used. The production is, like all Nuclear Blast releases, very clean and clear, though I think the guitars get buried under the other flourishes of choral arrangements and violins, and I think the bass drums are rather overtriggered. The music is obviously all well played, even though it’s not a really demanding style, and the songwriting is solid throughout. Most of the stuff here is rather repetitive and verse-chorus, but those verses and choruses are pleasing to listen to and never get unbearably cheesy. ‘Devoid’ in general is good about being dramatic but never going into ridiculous territory, even though some of the crescendos get dangerously close to such a state at times.

I like the music here. It’s very crowd-pleasing and accessible, and it shows an obvious level of care and craftsmanship in its construction. It’s not thoroughly artistic and meaningful, but it’s a good heavy metal album to put on when you’re simply looking for something enjoyable and powerful to listen to. It’s not Burzum, but it never set out to be. It’s the musical equivalent to the History Channel: yeah, it’s all mostly the same and repeats itself a lot, but it never fails to at least be interesting and fun while it’s on. Pretty cool all around.

(Originally written for http://www.grindingtheapparatus.net)

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~ by noktorn on September 22, 2007.

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