Breathe Deep the Dark
Released: 1998, Metal Blade
With the exception of a handful of bands, the North American metal scene is for all intents and purposes... Dead. Thanks to the success of bands such as Nirvana, Korn, and Marilyn Manson, heavy music has moved in a more grungy/hardcore/industrial direction. And while the quality of music has never taken priority over its profit potential in the eyes of record company executives, the advent of the current trends saw musical quality go from being a low priority to an absolute non-issue. (How else can you explain an "artist" such as Beck?) Were it not for the self respect and determination of bands like Iced Earth, Death, Nevermore (to name a few), and a strong underground death metal following, the North American scene would have flat-lined nearly ten years ago. But despite its grave condition, there are still some signs of life.
Thanks once again to the World Wide Web, I was fortunate enough to find out about Destiny's End, a new technical power/speed metal quintet comprised of former members of New Eden, and featuring ex-Helstar vocalist James Rivera. After listening to some clips from Breathe Deep the Dark, I was very surprised to find out that the band is based out of L.A. since there is such a strong European flavor to their music. The only American band that I could possibly compare them to is the now defunct Sanctuary, who also stood out from the bulk of their American contemporaries. With hardcore and hip-hop influenced music now dominating the metal scene, it's inspiring to once again witness the birth of a band that is technically accomplished and who take pride in their craft.
A few of the tracks on Breathe Deep the Dark may require a couple of listens to absorb due to the complexity of the arrangements, but most capture your attention immediately. The album opener "Rebirth" is an adrenaline fueled and technically blazing song which succeeds in leaving the listener craving for more. That craving is quickly satisfied with the up-tempo, yet melancholy title track, which is then followed by the driving gallop of "To Be Immortal". Other standout tracks are "The Fortress Unvanquishable", "Unsolved World", and the album closer "The Obscure".
Unlike the blind rage displayed by the earlier mentioned power-chord bashing bands, Destiny's End successfully channel their feelings of anger and bewilderment into music that's fast, focused, and melodic. Drummer Brian Craig and bassist Nardo Andi provide the perfect foundation for guitarists Dan DeLucie and Perry Grayson. And while they are exceptionally skilled players, DeLucie and Grayson, unlike many other talented guitarists, play leads that are well suited to the songs rather than perform guitar "acrobatics".
Lyrically, the songs are rather deep, dealing with subject matter such as reincarnation, the purpose of existence, and ascension to power. Steeped in imagery and metaphor, the thought- provoking and poetic words of Destiny's End, made all the more memorable when delivered by a vocalist as powerful as Rivera, will certainly leave the listener with much food for thought. Not since Sanctuary's 1990 masterpiece Into the Mirror Black have I heard such an exemplary blending of aggression, melody, and philosophy. It's music that's guaranteed to appeal to the tastes of angry intellectuals. And as impressive a debut as Breathe Deep the Dark is, it is for that reason alone that it won't appeal to fans of the current trends... They're just angry with no idea as to why. (When forced to actually think, they've been known to cry out in pain.) And although I do fear metal gaining mass popularity and becoming a music market saturated with no-talent bands, I would like to see a few more groups of Destiny's End's caliber emerge from North America simply to help the underground scene stay healthy, and above all... Alive.