Darkside - _Melancholia of a Dying World_
(Conquest Music, 1996)
by: Alain M. Gaudrault (4 out of 10)
The cheesy fake-sounding automatic rifle combat noise in the opening sequence of this album was cause for immediate concern upon my first listen. Chalk up another one for gut feeling. I'll admit right away, before even getting to the music, one of my biggest problems with this release is the production, not the engineering, mind you, but the production. I mean, technically, it seems well recorded and sounds nice and clean, perhaps too clean, but the overall sound is just one bad decision after another. Those sporadic electronic sound effects are completely out of place, the guitar tone is thin and hollow, and the vocals are too forward in the mix, although the latter point could have been remedied by thicker, louder guitars. If this is all due to lack of funds for a proper studio and all, I apologize for harping, but the clean, crisp recording didn't lead me to believe this was the case. Enough with the production, already, right? If only that were the worst of it. Darkside is essentially death metal, but you couldn't tell from the music. This is death strictly by the presence of death vocals; lame, boring ones at that. Too many sad rock structures and solos, neither played with much skill or significant complexity, a wonder seeing as they try so hard to be experimental. Combining elements of death, speed, hard rock, doom, goth, and even free-form jazz, _Melancholia..._ goes everywhere, and in the end, goes nowhere. Cohesion? Forget it. Musicianship? Minimal. Aggression? Washed out. We're talking several dead simple (not to mention cliche, in far too many instances) riffs, strung together nonsensically with unexpected genre context switches, all backed with a low-grade drummer who makes Death's Bill Andrews sound good. Honestly, I found it painful having to sit through this album the dozen or so times I forced myself to listen to it in order to write this review. It should be noted that this was actually recorded in 1994, was released in late 1995 in Germany, and is just now available in North America, so confused lot of Austrians may have improved significantly since, but truely, these guys need to find their strengths and focus on them... a lot.

(article published 4/2/1997)

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