CD Reviews

Darkhaus - 'When Sparks Ignite'

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 03, 2017    
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On the whole, song-wise and performance wise, this is excellent.

Scottish-based (Livingston) Darkhaus were formed in 2011 by bass player/song-writer Gary Meskil and guitarist/producer Rupert Keplinger. The line-up is completed by Ken Hanlon (vocals), Marshall Stephens (guitar) and Paul Keller (drums). 'When Sparks Ignite' is the band's second full-length album following the 2013 debut 'My Own Shelter' and a 2015 EP 'Providence'. All twelve songs on 'When Sparks Ignite' were written in Florida due to the fact that the location is "conducive to concentration and working" (well that's a new one on me).

I'm unfamiliar with both the debut release and last year's EP, but if they're as good as this, then I need to track them down. The Darkhaus style is modern with a hint of Metal and something of a dark Industrial undercurrent running through the songs. The programmed and sampled embellishments act as complimentary elements to the sound and never come across as intrusive or distractive. Musically, it's not overly heavy and Hanlon's emotive vocals are clean and factor heavily in the material's overall appeal. The guitar sound is big and fat, the riffs are powerful and drive the music along.

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The fact that there are a number of solos aids song identity, with 'Devil's Spawn' being a particular stand-out in that respect. The punchy melodies at the heart of 'The Last Goodbye' and 'After The Heartache' impact like AOR on steroids, leaving you reeling with their ferocious caress. There is no mention of the band's religious beliefs in any of the bios I've been able to find, but after a number of plays I'm left to conclude (incorrectly?) that, lyrically at least, Darkhaus may receive a little heavenly guidance. 'Helpless', for instance, deals with fractured relationships, yet the chorus is surprisingly uplifting. The songs are up-tempo in the main with good energy, though the piano-led 'Tears Of Joy' acts as something of a breather towards the album's close.

A couple of tracks could have benefited from a brighter mix but on the whole, song-wise and performance wise, this is excellent.

Dave Bott

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