Darkest Era - The Journey Through Damnation
Eyes Like Snow
Celtic Metal
4 songs (25'07")
Release year: 2008
Eyes Like Snow
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

The discussion which nation possesses which traits (the one we are having currently behind the scenes at MetalReviews) can be shifted into the realm of music – if the band hails from a certain country, will they have some distinct features to their sound? I just completed this debate with one of my coworkers on a lengthy business trip car ride. While sparing you lots of detail, we both agreed, while listening to Primordial, that Irish metal bands do well when they have a tragic, desperate edge, given some heartbreaking disasters that nation had to overcome in the course of their history.

In this regard The Journey Through Damnation by the Irish newcomer Darkest Era possesses that unmistakable aura of walking the green hills of the Emerald Isle. One needs no tin-whistle for confirmation. Within four tracks these Irishmen (and Irish ladies, as one guitar and drums are manned by Sarah Wieghell and Lisa Howe, respectively) unleash the firestorm of fast drumming, tremolo riffs and dense juicy sound completely permeated by authentic Celtic melodies. Darkest Era can go either with unrelenting chops (beginning and end of Visions of the Dawn), galloping riffs (On the Crest of Doom) or give themselves, and the listener, a little break in the action by slowing down the tempo on Another World Awaits. Fast tremolo guitars, semi-acoustic more reserved storytelling style in the middle of Visions of the Dawn or mandolin(?)/violin outro of Another World Awaits, Darkest Era melodies are always swaying in the wind, prompting you to lock shoulders with your Irish brothers in one spirit-sharing hug.

The Journey Through Damnation compositions hold excellently together as complete songs. The parts are repeated, when appropriate, yet the story always moves forward prodded on by some rolling drums often leading to the ends both triumphant and tragic. The band has strong musicianship to cast their web with the first listen, then make the listener come back for intricate details, like throbbing lead in The Morrigan or the final statement in On The Crest of Doom. The only Darkest Era feature I had to get used to were the vocals of Dwayne “Krum” Maguire. The man must have a very high clean natural voice. Consistently sticking to the higher end of the range Krum soars and stretches, mostly on key, his voice is pushed a little back in the mix as if coming from the depths of some of those Irish valleys. Adding just a little bit from the lower end would make the record more masculine without diluting its authenticity.

I am in complete agreement with Primordial’s Alan A. Nemtheanga. The Journey Through Damnation is one of the strongest records to come from Ireland in a long time. If you think Waylander lost their ways trying to resurrect the sound Anathema abandoned long ago, if you think Cruachan is too gimmicky and folky, and if the aforementioned Primordial is a little too black for you, then Darkest Era is entirely engaging and Celtic at the same time, while leaning towards the traditional metal avoiding the genre’s more extreme edges.

Killing Songs :
All songs are very good
Alex quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Darkest Era that we have reviewed:
Darkest Era - Gods and Origins reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Darkest Era - Severance reviewed by Thomas and quoted 90 / 100
Darkest Era - Last Caress of Light reviewed by Thomas and quoted 90 / 100
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