Review Summary: The latest chapter in Flogging Molly's adventure has its moments, but is a change on the horizon?
Having released their breakthrough debut album Swagger
well over 10 years ago, Flogging Molly have remained quite active since their inception. Their special blend of punk and folk as well as their large variety of instruments helps give them a unique sound. However there comes a time in nearly every band’s career when it’s time to make a change. Although the band did change things up a bit on their 2004 release Within a Mile of Home
by taking on a more folk oriented sound, their latest effort shows us a band that seems to be doing nothing more than parodying themselves.
To be fair Flogging Molly’s latest offering Speed of Darkness
isn’t a bad album, it just lacks the spark the band had on their first two releases or even their previous album Float.
That’s not to say the album is without its moments however. It gets off to a great start with the energetic title track which is packed with many instruments from the fiddle to the electric guitar. Vocalist Dave King also sounds top notch in the song, which may remind the listener of some of his better work on the band’s exceptional first two albums. The problem is that as enjoyable as the song is, it suffers from the “been there, done that” formula. It sounds too similar to some of their other songs and although it’s catchy as hell and very upbeat it just lacks the originality the band used to be known for. Unfortunately, ‘Saints & Sinners’ is another standout that is held back by a feeling of redundancy.
Thankfully, not all the songs are as familiar sounding and the band does in fact throw some curve balls on Speed of Darkness.
For those who are a sucker for the band’s slower songs, they’re in for a real treat with ‘The Cradle of Humankind.’ Not only is it the most beautiful song on the album, it’s one of the most impressive ballads the band has ever written. Instruments like the violin are played at the perfect pace, giving the song a somber and even poignant feeling. It doesn’t really sound like any of the other ballads the band has done which makes it a welcome surprise on the album. Another enjoyable track would be ‘A Prayer for me In Silence’ which contains King’s wife Bridget Regan on guest vocals. She’s been playing the fiddle and the tin whistle in the band ever since its formation, but with her gorgeous singing voice I can’t help but wonder why she isn’t used more often in the vocal department. She sounds fantastic alongside King and she even manages to steal the show with her lighthearted vocals making it one of the most enjoyable songs on the album.
As a whole Speed of Darkness
is somewhat disappointing. Thankfully certain songs keep the album from becoming too stale, but others suggest it’s time for the band to go in a new direction for their next album. Their tale is far from over but I for one am interested to see how the next chapter unfolds. Hopefully they will be a bit more experimental next time around but Speed of Darkness
is a decent enough album that has just enough good moments to justify its place in the story of Flogging Molly.