Review Archive

The Don Darlings brand of dark southern Americana - definitely an acquired taste

(November 19, 2014)

Certain albums offer an ‘open-armed’ welcome. Some actually make engagement difficult. The Don Darlings album coverOthers obscure understanding or present a bleak despondency that’s less than attractive. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad albums, often the opposite is true, however it does mean hard work for the listener. This is one of those albums. … The Don Darlings have created an album that takes relentlessly oppressive darkness to almost suicidal levels. The opening line of the press release describes their music as: “Like a dying heart at the bottom of a muddy black hole” and positions the genre as: “Dark Southern Americana” – understand that and you’ll appreciate what you hear when the CD spins. This is heavy, powerful stuff.

There’s the overwhelming, monotone ‘dredged up from the bottom of your boots’ vocal, hard-edged ripping, distorted guitars, thunderous, ominous bass and drums, and uncomfortable ill-omened songs. That concoction presents a deep-seated, depressive soundscape of demanding and catastrophic cataclysm. The scene sets with the sombre ‘Ressurection’ building further into desolation with despaired longing in ‘Provide Me An Angel’, a tempo-lift combined with fierce guitar cuts offers ‘If You Can’t Be Good’ and ‘Transcendental Noise’ before sombre misery in ‘Noose ‘round My Neck’ pours on the hopelessness.

This is the point where many might hit the 'off switch' before the misery gets too much. Alternatively, those that love this might work at it and discover something akin to ‘delicious agony’. The songwriting power is undeniable. The strength palpable. Definitely an acquired taste.

The Don Darlings are Damon Collum (vocals) Martin Olsson (guitar) Tony Martinsson (guitar) Mika Häkki (bass) and Johan Conse (drums) additional musicians on selected tracks on the album are Salome Kent (violin) Gunnar Frick (accordion) and Don Alsterberg (guitar).

Reviewer: Charlie Elland

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