By Sean Palmerston
One of the biggest surprises of this year so far has been the Metal Blade debut by Belfast, Ireland’s Darkest Era. After two previous releases, this quintet has rifled off one of the most memorable, exciting debuts to make it into my home stereo in quite some time. Obviously somewhat influenced by fellow Irish Celtic metallers Primordial, to simply lump them in as clones of said band would be selling Darkest Era short. Very short. Taking a few songs from earlier releases, including the absolutely magnificent opener “The Morrigan” (song of the year material!), the band has delivered an eight song album that takes a few listens to crack but that pays dividends upon repeated listens. The Last Caress of Light is built on strong songwriting and excellent musicianship. Drummer Lisa Howe proves herself more than able, spicing her performance with lots of natural, non-triggered double kick and tasty fills without being overtly flashy. The twin guitars of Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Wieghell weave in and out of each other, playing twin leads similar to those found on The Lord Weird Slough Feg’s earlier releases, which are both regal and understated. This is a band that knows how to play well together; I would imagine they must be an excellent live act. The clincher for me though is vocalist Krum. He has a natural, unforced delivery of clean vocals (no death metal vox here folks!) that clicks with the rest of the band. There isn’t just one thing about this band that makes me like them so much – there’s a whole bunch of them. Think of a more folky and less refined Primordial and you’ll have an idea what to expect, although to be honest they are much better than even that makes them sound. An awesome debut which points towards even bigger things, I can’t recommend this album enough.