Album Review – Dark Station / Down in The Dark (2019)

Get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds and soaring vocals by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

In the spring of 2018, five Southern California musicians (Nathan Spades on vocals, Kyle Ort and David Bruno on the guitars, Eric Sinful on bass, and Dylan Roy on drums) came together to form a new band with the ability to seamlessly transition from crushingly heavy riffs to unforgettably haunting melodies and lyrics, leaving their respective project behind. That band is Hard Rock/Alternative Metal unity Dark Station, who are ready to unleash upon us their debut album entitled Down in the Dark, poised to cement the band’s name as a commendable force in the rock world. Put differently, get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds, soaring vocals and electrifying passages by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

A futuristic intro explodes into modern-day Alternative Metal in Ryse, where the groovy bass punches by Eric will make your head tremble while Nathan begins his enraged vocal attack amidst screeching guitar noises, resulting in a beyond solid welcome card by the band. Then drinking form the same fountain as icons like Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson and Korn, the quintet fires Heroes, a dark and melodic tune where Kyle and David once again pierce our ears with their riffs, not to mention its ominous aura, followed by New Age, with another wicked intro morphing into rumbling metal music, sounding very atmospheric and heavy. Moreover, Eric and his menacing bass are on fire throughout this headbanging song that perfectly depicts what modern American metal is all about. And Villain is even more alternative than all previous songs, showcasing a great job done by both Kyle and David on the guitars with their flammable riffs while Nathan’s vocals get more obscure and wicked, bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality.

No Life sounds like the music from all bands from that period where we got Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and so on, and although it might not be as vibrant as the other songs, its lyrics match perfectly with the music (“Summers eyes / Frienemies / Car exhaust  / I can’t believe / Something else was inside me / yeah  / You’ve gotta fight it alone now / It’s out of control”), whereas the born-to-be-a-radio-hit Obvious brings to our ears the utterly melodic bass punches by Eric while Nathan darkly declaims the song’s words (“We take the pain / Every day / Could we be the same / On the other side / I’ll try my luck again / Again / You know it’s not enough / For me”).After that awesome display of rock music we have Hollow, another somber, pensive creation by Dark Station where Nathan exhales melancholy from his vocals and with Dylan pounding his drums with tons of precision, also bringing crisp guitar solos and a huge dosage of anger for our total delight.

Leaning towards the most contemporary form of American Alternative Rock and Metal, Misery is a great option to be part of a soundtrack for hitting the road, with all instruments filling every single space in the air, therefore providing Nathan all he needs to thrive on vocals. Ghost keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, flirting with Industrial Rock and Metal but keeping the band’s core essence intact. Not only that, Eric and Dylan make a very effective dynamic duo, bringing thunder to the music with their instruments; and modernized, metallic sounds keep permeating the air in Locked On, with its background futuristic touch helping enhance the impact of each instrument considerably, especially the guitars by Kyle and David alternating between more serene moments and razor-edged sounds. As their final blast of Alternative Metal, we’re treated to more of the band’s radio-ready rockin’ music in the form of Visions, where slashing riffs are powerfully complemented by the crushing bass by Eric and Dylan’s rhythmic beats, ending in a desperate and captivating way.

What are you waiting for to show those talented Southern Californians your support and appreciation? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, bang your head to their music on Spotify, and get ready to rock to the sound of Down in The Dark sooner than you think by pre-ordering your copy of the album from the band’s official website or from Apple Music. There’s a new age of American Alternative Rock and Metal coming, and based on the quality and electricity flowing from Dark Station’s debut album I’m more than certain we’ll see those guys spearheading that very welcome movement in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Ryse, Hollow and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: No Life.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Ryse 3:37
2. Heroes 4:19
3. New Age 3:09
4. Villain 3:55
5. No Life 3:09
6. Obvious 4:01
7. Hollow 3:13
8. Misery 3:00
9. Ghost 4:20
10. Locked On 3:23
11. Visions 4:34

Band members
Nathan Spades – vocals
Kyle Ort – guitar
David Bruno – guitar
Eric Sinful – bass
Dylan Roy – drums

Concert Review – Amon Amarth (Sound Academy, Toronto, ON, 10/10/2014)

The most powerful Swedish Viking horde in the world attacks Toronto once again, setting the city on fire on a chilly night.

OPENING ACTS: Skeletonwitch and Sabaton

Amon-Amarth-PosterAs the fans of Game Of Thrones like to say, “Winter is coming” pretty soon, which means it’s getting colder and colder here in Toronto and, of course, in the entire Canada. So why not turning up the heat with some brutality, Viking music and good beer on a Friday night at the Sound Academy? The bands chosen to make our lives a lot warmer were American Thrash/Death Metal band Skeletonwitch, Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton and the main attraction of the night, Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Amon Amarth.

Opening the night with the same energy of a stampede of raging bulls and still promoting their latest album, the insane Serpents Unleashed, the ‘Witch were absolutely awesome from start to finish, even with very limited time to deliver all their havoc. Chance Garnette’s unique devilish vocals and Dustin Boltjes killing everything on drums were the highlights of their wicked performance, with songs like I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived), Serpents Unleashed and Within My Blood being so brutal I’m pretty sure most of the people who were already at the venue during Skeletonwitch might have an “interesting” pain in their necks and bodies until today. Chance said they’re returning to Toronto in the Spring, so I guess we have enough time to recover until we break our fuckin’ necks once again with more of their demonic metal.

Setlist
1. More Cruel Than Weak
2. I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
3. From a Cloudless Sky
4. Burned from Bone
5. Beyond the Permafrost
6. Unending, Everliving
7. Stand Fight and Die
8. Serpents Unleashed
9. Within My Blood

Band members
Chance Garnette – lead vocals
Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette – guitars
Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick – guitars
Evan “Loosh” Linger – bass
Dustin Boltjes – drums

IMG_2975Having recently released their seventh studio album, entitled Heroes, Sabaton had the tough mission of entertaining a crowd extremely avid for Amon Amarth. Well, although I myself consider their music somewhat generic, they did a pretty good job and got a great reaction from the audience, especially during songs such as 40:1, Swedish Pagans and Metal Crüe. Frontman Joakim Brodén has a very limited vocal range if compared to many other Power Metal singers, but his interaction with the fans, in special his jokes about Canada always beating Sweden in ice hockey, were sufficient to avoid any negativity from the crowd and to keep everyone awake and pumped up for the main attraction. The only problem is, as aforementioned, their generic lyrics and musicality: how many other bands, and you can limit your analysis only to Sweden if you prefer, have songs with the words “pagan”, “warrior”, “fight” or “metal” in their names, and those more-than-generic galloping riffs? If they fix that, they can go a lot further in their career.

Setlist
1. Intro (The March To War)
2. Ghost Division
3. To Hell and Back
4. Carolus Rex
5. 40:1
6. Swedish Pagans
7. Resist and Bite
8. The Art of War
9. Primo Victoria
10. Metal Crüe
11. Outro (Dead Soldiers Waltz)

Band members
Joakim Brodén – vocals, keyboards
Pär Sundström – bass, backing vocals
Chris Rörland – guitar, backing vocals
Thobbe Englund – guitar, backing vocals
Hannes van Dahl – drums

AMON AMARTH

IMG_2983Perhaps one of the most stable band formations in the history of heavy music, with the same band members being together since 1998 (and three out of five since their beginnings in 1992), Swedish Viking horde Amon Amarth delivered almost everything their fans were asking for, except for their Viking ship and fireworks, which couldn’t be part of their performance due to venue limitations.

However, the absence of fireworks and other theatrical items was completely forgiven and forgotten when the band started playing their unique epic metal. It was pure brutal headbanging, fists and horns in the air, beer drinking and lots of singing throughout their whole concert, with everything getting even heavier and more fun during classics like Death in FireGuardians of Asgaard, Cry of the Black Birds, and of course the highly anticipated Viking hymns Twilight of the Thunder God (where frontman Johan Hegg entered wearing a Viking helmet and holding the Hammer of the Gods as usual) and The Pursuit of Vikings, with all fans screaming as loud as possible its famous epic chorus nonstop, for the band’s total delight. The sincere smile on Johan’s face was priceless.

IMG_2984In addition, their newer songs from their latest albums, Surtur Rising (2011) and Deceiver of the Gods (2013), also worked really well, with highlights to For Victory or Death, Father of the Wolf, Destroyer of the Universe and War of the Gods. I love metal music when it’s played as fast as the band is capable of, which was the case for all those songs. I just thought there were very few mosh pits, maybe because it was getting really late and all fans were exhausted after a long day at school or work, and after so many hours of energetic heavy music. Being a headbanger demands a lot of our bodies, especially when you have such electrifying bands like Skeletonwitch and Amon Amarth playing live in front of you, don’t you agree?

Anyway, during one of his many fun interactions with the crowd (while drinking beer from his horn), Johan Hegg also spoke about ice hockey and the NHL, which makes me wonder if this is the biggest connection between Canada and Sweden, or if Heavy Metal is indeed what makes these two cold but totally amazing countries be so close to each other. Based on the happiness and level of energy spread among all fans that attended the concert at the Sound Academy, and as a true heavy music lover, I have to go with the second option without a shadow of a doubt. And now, all that’s left for us fans is the never-ending wait for another Viking invasion of Canada.

Setlist
1. Deceiver of the Gods
2. Runes to My Memory
3. Death in Fire
4. Free Will Sacrifice
5. As Loke Falls
6. We Shall Destroy
7. For Victory or Death
8. Varyags of Miklagaard
9. The Fate of Norns
10. Father of the Wolf
11. Guardians of Asgaard
12. Warriors of the North
13. Destroyer of the Universe
14. Cry of the Black Birds
15. War of the Gods

Encore:
16. Twilight of the Thunder God
17. The Pursuit of Vikings 

Band members
Johan Hegg – lead vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Fredrik Andersson – drums