Review Summary: Doomrider's potent blend of classic metal and hardcore matures with Darkness Come Alive.
Four years after Black Thunder
was unleashed on the metal and hardcore crowd, the Doomriders have returned with their second full length, Darkness Come Alive
. Since vocalist and guitarist Nate Newton has been busy touring and recording with Converge when not touring with Doomriders, you can see why there has been a bit of a gap between full lengths. The raw, old school metal and hardcore approach to rock n’ roll that was done so well on Black Thunder
is back but this time it feels a little bit darker. One thing that stood out right away is that the production is cleaner; on first listen I almost felt it was too clean. After giving this album quite a few listens, it doesn't bother me as much. Darkness Come Alive
feels a little more serious in tone than Black Thunder
but I think that is mainly just part of the band maturing. All in all, they are still the same intense, heavy band that is a blast to listen to.
The album opens with "Fade to Black", moaning guitars build up into "Heavy Lies the Crown". The drums kick in at a gallop and the vocals on this track are more of Nate’s shout/sing. About two minutes in everything begins to dissipate before Nate bellows “Contenders beware, strike you down where you stand!” and the relentless drums begin pummeling again. The song writing is pretty simple on this song and you will probably have the chorus playing in your head for days. "Bear Witness" comes up next, starting things off pretty heavy and has a nice intro solo. The vocals are at full blast on this one, channeling the power and rage behind the main riff. This track shows off more of their hardcore side and deals with the theme of corruption in organized religion. The last twenty seconds feature some sick blasting on the drums as Nate yells “We never learn from our mistakes, we never learn!” The Matt Pike styled riffing is all over the place on this album, which is a great thing.
Continuing the hardcore rampage, "Knife Wound" displays a great hardcore drum beat while the vocals rage over the heavy riffing. "Come Alive" is where the band does something that they really make their own. The listener can point to Danzig influences like on "Midnight Eye" on Black Thunder
and really see an evolution. The vocals are fairly clean on this album and have some melancholy. This is another example of simple song writing that is very effective. Once again, here is one that you will probably be humming along to yourself. The last two minutes get really interesting with a duel guitar melody that builds up into a solo. Then there is a slow, bluesy sounding ending string of riffs that is probably one of my favorite parts of the album. "Night Howler" is almost like an ambient track at the start, and then eventually a really distorted guitar starts crawling out of the gloom. I like the feel of this track a lot and it wasn’t really expected from these guys. That track leads into "Crooked Path" which has a wicked bluesy main riff and Nate conveys the lonely, melancholic atmosphere with his vocals. There are some chilling guitar harmonies that will undoubtedly remind people of Iron Maiden. This is probably one of the best tracks on the record, even though I had heard it on the split with Disfear before. It still hits hard and has tons of soul.
Changing course from the gloomier side of things, "Lions" rises from the murk with a vengeance. The bass and drums mark the opening with a slow intensity. Slowly the guitars join in and Nate rages “Don’t let these ***ers grind you down! Don’t let these bastards steal your soul!” The drums are a plodding war chant, while the heavy distorted guitars accent the rest of the song like a slow burning fire. Half way through this track you see the sun shining through the smoke and another Maiden styled guitar harmony rises above. Then the triumphant guitars bring us to the chant “You got the heart of a lion!” which might seem cheesy but is one of the most memorable parts of the album. "Equalizer" is probably my favorite out of their short hardcore songs; it reminds me of Coliseum a lot. The ending has a cool blues stomp going on, which is very catchy. "Night lurker" is like a variation of "Fade From Black" that guides us to the beginning of "Jealous God". This is another highlight for me, it’s slower, more crushing and definitely on the doomier side of their sound. "Mercy" is another ground shaking hardcore track with some very interesting duel guitar work. "Night Beckons" is one of the eeriest interludes on the album with it’s spine chilling flute. Blood Avenger almost seems like a sequel to the "The Chase" from Black Thunder
, and I mean that in a good way. This brings us to the track "Bloodsuckers" which features a battle chant of “KILL THE BLOODSUCKERS! KILL THE BLOODSUCKERS!” "Worthless" off their last full length will give you a good idea of what to expect from this one, or just Motorhead gone hardcore for those of you inexperienced. It also creates an image in my head of a barbarian horde crushing a coven of vampires from Twilight. I’m sure Nate is referring to the authorities and people who bring you down in life though! "Rotter" closes the album, bringing the doom with the plodding drums of war driving the destruction forward. It’s an apocalyptic way to end the album.
If metal and hardcore appeal to you, I don’t see how you could be disappointed in this release. It has everything the two genres have to offer in one powerful set of songs. Borrowing ideas from the classics doesn’t always turn out to be the most interesting music to listen to but as with Black Thunder
Doomriders pull this off well. Nothing sounds stale and they have their own distinct sound while building off the ideas of the music they love to listen to. The production works well but may come off as too clean at first to some fans. Some of the shorter hardcore tracks sound a little similar at first listen also. The vocals show more variation as do the songs structures. Personally, I will probably always prefer "Black Thunder" but don't miss out on this.