Dark Age - A Matter of Trust (AFM Records)

Nice work from these veteran German metallers...
Release Date: 
6 Sep 2013 (All day)

Hamburg veterans Dark Age crash out of the speakers with a track, Nero, that is easily one of the best pieces of melodic metal I’ve heard all year, if not longer; An exciting slab of sound that sounds surprisingly modern for a band that’s been going for eighteen years and seven albums, it sets the pulse racing and tweaks all the sort of knobs that an album opener should be tweaking. I’m excited by the prospect of what’s to come on A Matter of Trust!

However Nero is sadly the high water mark of the album, quality-wise; Next track Afterlife races along nicely, but it isn’t maintaining the excitement levels established by the opener; Out of Time fuses de riguer screamed verses with a clean, semi-soaring chorus, and nice drumming from Andre Schumann.  However it’s a style of song that really has been done to death over the last few years, and Dark Age don’t bring enough to the table in terms of variation to make it anything out of the ordinary.

Fight! Is more interesting, following the dirty/clean template but mixing things up by putting the screaming in the choruses instead of the verses. It’s a simple twist, but enough to snag the ear and make you listen. There’s some nice, chunky guitar playing here too which keeps interest levels high. Twin axemen Eike Freese (who also handles the vocals) and Jorn Schubert really come into their own on this track, which does a lot to restore the confidence placed in your brain by the album opener.

Sensibly, the band doesn’t overstretch the songs here, which gives a sense of momentum to even the more humdrum tracks. Nothing reaches five minutes in duration, and that sense of urgency is maintained by the next track Don’t Let the Devil Get Me. Another mixture of smoothness and grit, it also gives Freese the chance to impress vocally on the verses, whilst giving the ears a breather with an interesting keyboard-led middle section that breaks out into a solo that’ll start memories of Evergrey twitching in the ol’ musical receptors up top.

My Saviour starts weakly, but gets into its stride come chorus time to provide another good, strong piece of melodic work come chorus time. A paean to the redemptive qualities of music, it’s lyrics will strike a chord with anyone who has ever used metal as crutch through the dark times as well as a soundtrack to the good. 

Glory is a more reflective piece, hinting at the likes of Porcupine Tree in the verses before unleashing an epic-sounding chorus that doesn’t quite hit the heights it aspires to yet still manages to work on a slightly diminished level. 

Less successful still is The Great Escape, which tries to cover too much ground and ends up confusing itself and the listener as it flits from genre to genre in search of a home. But at three and a half minutes in length it’s over quickly and the band reverts to something more ‘normal’ on The Locked In Syndrome; Surprisingly for a band that has named itself after Metallica and Vader songs (they were originally known as Dyer’s Eve), there’s a pervasive air of eighties synthpop lurking in the background of a lot of these songs, and it manifests itself most on this track. It’s not an unpleasant manifestation either, giving a few different tones to the palette and allowing Dark Age to keep things interesting when it would be easier just to riff themselves into oblivion.

Penultimate track Dark Sign ramps up the band’s goth side to the max, but it isn’t one of the album’s best moments, whilst closer Onwards! finishes up matters in stately, imperious style with a marvellous piece of grandiose rock that you can imagine end the band’s live shows in magnificent fashion.

Good stuff then, almost great in places and containing one track, Nero, that is absolutely a must have. Worth a few quid of anyone’s money!