Review Summary: This album is like heroin. No, this album IS heroin.
Red Harvest are a band of Norwegians playing dark metal, which is dubbed industrial. But it's definitely no Static X-like industrial, neither is it Strapping Young Lad-like industrial. It's dark, and I mean as dark as industrial can get. This album was a novelty to me, as I had never heard this beautiful kind of music before. A Greater Darkness
is neither about ingenious tempo-changes, nor elaborate technicality, it's purely about mood and atmosphere. Imagine working in a dark cyborg factory 10 hours a day, and when you finish and get out, being greeted by vast, desolate fields of rusted metal containers under the vermilion setting sun, with the air being chilly and moist. This is just one of the ways to try and put this album's atmosphere in words, but it'll probably fail miserably anyway.
Probably the biggest asset of this record is its variety and intertwining heaviness and atmosphere. Vocal-wise, there is a weird kind of neither-screaming-nor-growling employed, which sounds very dry, raw and excellent. The vocalist also shows off his soothing baritone here and there, to a great effect too. The tracks are aligned in an alternating way, so that the heavy/non-heavy variety is more pronounced. Every single song on A Greater Darkness
is great, so most of your listens will probably encompass the album's entirety. "Antidote" is a heavy song built around a single simplistic yet genius riff, "Hole In Me" is a hypnotizing ballad and one of the album's strongest points, the next two songs are a heavy and dramatic assault-oriented ones, you also get three entirely electronical songs which make use of strings and even symphony, they fill in extremely well and bring about a "back to the womb"-like atmosphere. The music sounds very matter-of-fact in general, it's completely devoid of any cheer, but neither is it sad in the commonly accepted sense of the word. It simply puts you in lethargy and makes you contemplate nothingness - perhaps you could think of it as of a softer, more electronized and less technical "Shed" by Meshuggah.
Another strong point of this album are its lyrics. Not excessively poetical, yet still very, very far from banal. And they carry a powerful message which could be interpreted as a warning for humanity not to take things too far, or we'll just end up annihilated. Bits like "Darth Vader rules the Vatican" filled me with an instant burst of admiration for their lyricist, which was only perpetuated by the sublime poetry of "Hole in Me". You really need to read the lyrics for that one, they're just incredible.
I'm a melomaniac who appreciates most forms of music, but this album isn't for everybody. If you prefer groove and happiness, better give this album a pass. But on the other hand, the lack of these cannot be counted as a con of this work, as this was simply not the writers' purpose. This album takes you on a journey through realms of wonder, lethargy and uncertainty. Highly recommended for fans of science-fiction movie scores and anything that has an industrial vibe, as well as those that take music very emotionally and are subject to its mood-changing properties.
Pros of this album:
- Very, very atmospheric
- The vocals, especially the cleans, but the harshes lack nothing too
- Overall thematic integrity, but not without variance
- A fragment of Adolf Hitler's speech in the song "Warthemes" ;)
Cons of this album:
- Cannot think of any. The album can put you in a lax, meditational state, though, and that may make you doze off. Could be considered a con, duh.