Journalist Name: Navdi
Artist: Darkest Era
Title: The Last Caress of Light
Label: Metal Blade Records
Cat. #: 3984-14973-2
Genre: Celtic Metal
01 The Morrigan
02 An Ancient Fire Burns
03 Beneath The Frozen Sky
04 Heathen Burial
05 Visions Of The Dawn
06 To Face The Black Tide
07 Poem To The Gael
08 The Last Caress Of Light Before The Dark
When a band is presented to me in the same sentence as the expression ‘Celtic riff’ I’m pretty much flabbergasted with curiosity. This is exactly how Darkest Era reached my ears, and within the next breath there was talk about Thin Lizzy, or more exactly the classic Gary Moore riff on “Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend”. After such words I knew I just had to hear this.
Darkest Era hails from Northern Ireland and “The Last Caress of Light” is their first studio album, a combination of new material and old favourites from their EP:s. It’s recorded in the well renowned Foel Studios in Wales, where bands such as Primordial and Porcupine Tree have passed through. Alan Averill from Primordial was an important part of the band getting their contract with Metal Blade Records, with his A&R role on the label.
“The Last Caress of Light” is a dark, epic kind of heavy metal on the border towards Pagan, heavy-armed with Folk tunes, called Celtic metal by the band themselves. Singer Krum gives it somehow a soft core, his voice bristling with emotion between refrains full of raw power. Each song is rock steady, insanely enthralling and madly well-produced. May it be the strong flow calling in “An Ancient Fire Burns” or the lyrical telling on “Poem To The Gael”, every single note strikes where it should. According to the band the lyrical themes represents “the turning of the tide, the fragile line between hope and despair, and the battle of strength against weakness”. I would say it in another way: this is songs about bravery, heroism and the kind of glory we, living today, only dare dream of. As some of the last lines in the final track “The Last Caress of Light Before the Dark”, naming the album itself, says: “So far I’ve sought, so long I’ve fought/ The land is seared with sorrows past/ And if I should die upon this day/ Then let the spirits guide me home”.
This record for sure has the same ability to awaken a longing for granny’s old rocking chair as Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose”, although the latter feels a hundred years away. This is Celtic, without doubt, but in a way that makes new blood seeps into the veins of old legends, revealing their true power, rather than letting glorified memories fading into stagnant myth. The songs carries echoes from such tales between each riff, and offers every thirsty wanderer melodies that makes Irish green hills and rocky coastlines dance before weary eyes. Opening track “The Morrigan” sticks like glue on a woolen blanket, like the goddess herself enchanting my ears, and then the rest of the album carries me away to magic lands full of adventure. Lost love, courage in battle, crackling fires, heroes, all of them greets me as long lost friends, and I yearn for their embrace.
The one hour playing time ends far too soon. When I so haste to press play again, I’m rewarded in glistening goblin gold, since this happens to be a record with the ability to grow every time it’s heard.