Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my favorite bands were a new breed of edgy, dark, and aggressive power metal such as Sanctuary, Vicious Rumors, and Crimson Glory. The music was fast, melodic, and full of powerful riffs, high-pitched vocals, and machine gun double-bass drums. These bands never broke through to the masses but they made their forefathers Maiden, Priest, Dio, and Queensrÿche proud by waving the flag of U.S. based power metal for a new generation of metal fans.
Listening to Darkology’s sophomore album Fated to Burn, I am transported back in time to that era when the music did the talking, bypassing current trends and focusing on strong songwriting and talented musicians.
Darkology is made up of seasoned musicians including Kelly Sundown Carpenter – Vocals (ex-Beyond Twilight – Outworld & Firewind/ live), Michael Harris – Guitars (Thought Chamber, Arch Rival) , Mike Neal – Bass, and Brian Harris – Drums (ex-Firewind, ex-Solstice). Legendary Grammy Award winning producer Chris Tsangarides mixed and mastered Fated to Burn, giving it immediately legitimacy in the world of metal.
The album hits you like a sledgehammer starting with the fast and furious riff-laden Kill Me If You Can. Carpenter’s maniacal laughter during the intro sets the tone as his Halford-esque screams over a flurry of riffs and thunderous drums. The song falls somewhere between Vicious Rumors and David Wayne-era Metal Church in sound and attitude.
The next song titled Beyond the Grave is a slower, dark and moody song that is brimming with intense and eerie vocals from Carpenter, whose style during this song is like a predator stalking its prey, slow and deliberate in his intent. Guitarist Michael Harris flexes his metal muscles with some impressive riffs alternating with clean guitar passages and some bluesy, yet shredding guitar solos.
On Morrow’s Break is another slow burner of a song with grinding riff and Carpenter’s vocals taking a raspy melodic tone similar to the late great vocalists David Wayne and Midnight of Crimson Glory. The rhythm section of Neal and Harris are locked in with some impressive chops that give the song a progressive edge.
The old-school speed of Eyes of the Machine, my favorite track on the album, is like a runaway locomotive. This is another song that brings classic Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, and Accept to mind with its aggression and power. The chorus is among the albums best with Carpenter shrieking like a wild banshee.
Drummer Brian Harris starts off Quantum Genocide with a nice groove. The song is probably my least favorite on the album but it does have some nice highlights, including a chugging rhythm, Carpenter’s high-pitched screams that seem to channel the late Midnight of Crimson Glory, and the pace quickens mid-way through the song with a riff that is quite similar to old school Slayer in some respects.
Shadows of Oth is another brooding, errie song that weaves between being slow and deliberate and hard, fast, and heavy. Carpenter’s flowing vocal lines have a classic Dickinson feel in the way they are recited during the verses.
The title track is loaded with melodic vocals and a catchy as hell chorus. The song has a more elements of progressive metal interlaced throughout to give it a different feel and texture compared to the heavier material on the album.
The curiously titled Nobot 2 has an old-school heavy metal swagger, with pounding, driving beat with killer riffs, shredding solos, and Carpenter’s impressive vocal delivery.
The band shows a penchant for writing dark, demonically evil, and gloomy metal material with Festival of Fear that shows influences from King Diamond and Mercyful Fate.
Holy is another song that has a lot of Powerslave-era Iron Maiden influence with a Middle-Eastern feel. Harris has some nice tasty guitar solos throughout this one and Carpenter’s vocals have an edge of aggression similar to that of the late Carl Albert of Vicious Rumors.
The albums longest song, The Nightmare King, clocks in at a whopping 9 minutes and brings the dark and mysterious vibe to another level. The first half of the song has a slower, darker pace and picks up mid way through with a chugging rhythm and some shredding guitar work.
The albums bonus track, Your Hollow Soul allows bassist Mike Neal to shine with some impressive bass work and Harris gets some equally impressive guitar solos during this instruments track, although I can see why it was added as a bonus, it doesn’t really fit the flow of the album, but that’s just my opinion.
Fated To Burn is a great follow up to the bands first album and is sure to impress fans of underground metal such as Sanctuary, Carl Albert era Vicious Rumors (the only era that matters to this reviewer), and Metal Church. U.S. power metal (with a dark, brooding edge) is alive and well with Darkology.