Review Summary: Promising nu metal debut, but marred with rapping that can only be described as "in bad taste".
My first exposure to Darke Complex was Anthony Fantano's short Twitter video regarding the music video for "Void" - he said "30 year old me is avoiding this band like the plague, but 15 year old me is seeing them on the second stage of Ozzfest." While I'm not 30 (I'm actually 21), this is somewhat similar to how I feel after seeing the "Void" video. At least that was until the Frankie Palmeri-lookin motherfu
cker came on screen and started spittin’ some sick lines (that is – sick as in nauseating).
I still hold some fondness for nu metal bands such as Korn, Linkin Park, Deftones, Ill Nino and for the most part this song captures that sound fairly well, even when a lot of modern bands are failing to do so. They got the deep, crunchy guitars, electronic flourishes and those tortured, angsty vocals that speak to the teenager within you. Unfortunately, they also feature the less fondly remembered parts of the genre such as awful rapping and simplistic lyrics.
If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m probably gonna be bringing up the rapping quite a lot in this review. You’ll probably be as sick of it as I was of hearing it by the end of the album, or even during the album. There are actually two rappers on this album, the aforementioned Frankie Palmeri-lookin mofo Moth Tracy and then there’s Okage. Okage isn’t anywhere near as bad as bad as the former but he isn’t great either. But jeez, I wish he was doing all the rapping if there had to be any because every single second of Moth Tracy’s rapping is absolutely horrendous. The tone of his voice is perpetually attempting to come off as angsty and ‘tough’ as possible, and every single syllable is emphasised as much as humanly possible, which only draws more attention to the atrocious, basic lyrics and simplistic rhyme schemes.
An example of some of his lyrics, from the chorus of “Dead to Me”:
“You try to break me with the words you speak / But you're already dead to me
You can't rewrite the history / Cause you're already dead to me
I'm shovelling this debris / From out of my memory
But alone in your misery / Guarantee you'll remember me”
If that doesn’t sound bad in text, believe it, it sounds worse on the track. Okage’s lyrics don’t seem quite as bad but that could be because he employs a much chilled-out flow that doesn’t draw attention to them quite as much. They remind me more of Mike Shinoda rather than Frankie Palmeri or Chris Fronzak, and that’s a very very good thing.
Even though overall the style is very much nu metal, there are some surprises here and there that give the album some variety. The electronic sections aren’t exactly typical of the genre as you’d expect, such as the synth arpeggios on One of Us that are reminiscent of Muse. There’s also two songs that can only be described as trap (yes, seriously), Cold Blooded and Marking Targets. The beats are acceptable but the rapping is still horrendous save for the middle verse on Marking Targets.
The songwriting overall is pretty solid. If you tore out the rapping sections and the two trap tracks, this would be a fairly enjoyable nu metal album. In its current state however, it’s hard to recommend as a whole. There’s a lot of potential for this band and I really want to succeed them. I can only hope that they continue to grow and change like they did from their EP, and that it’s for the better.
Recommended Tracks: Nothing Within, One of Us, Detox, Void, Erase