Released: 2015, Kobalt Label Services
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Lowestoft’s infamous glam rock band are back with their fourth album, brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins, along with Frankie Poullain parted ways with drummer Ed Graham before the recording began, drafting in Emily Dolan Davies in his place, she has since left to be replaced by Queen’s Roger Taylor’s son Rufus Taylor. The band have been around since 2000, though they split in 2005 after their 2nd album, re-uniting in 2011, this is their 2nd offering since that re-formation.
The Darkness resurrected the glam rock scene single-handedly, with the flamboyance of Bolan, trade-mark falsetto vocals and a sense of the ridiculous with over the top videos and 70’s style clothing. Flares, spandex and cat-suits have had a tendency to over-shadow the quality of musicianship, while they have a sense of fun and a reputation of being highly entertaining especially live. These days they are taken slightly more seriously than when they first launched but they retain that sense of absurdity even now, and I mean that in an affectionate way.
‘Barbarian’ launches the album with spoken word, a myth related by an aged soul, this is very different from what I expected, darker, growlier, still with the trademark high pitched vocals but very much tinged with Vikings. The Darkness are normally considered to be Glam rock, but here they delve into Norse Metal traditions and it gives them a more mature, less cheesy edge. ‘Open Fire’ is more glam, slightly 80’s U2 and full throttle sex machine. Title track ‘Last of Our Kind’ is more like The Darkness of old, with vocals off the scale and bordering on being so high that only dogs can hear them. It also features a thousand Darkness fans joining in the chorus, recorded over the internet to create a huge choir. ‘Roaring Waters’ is most notable for its delightful guitar riffs and solo, this track really shows Dan Hawkins to be a very talented guitarist, often lost behind his brother’s vocals, he comes to the fore here and takes the spotlight away from Justin. ‘Wheels of the Machine’ has a country vibe to it, un-expected depths and a very strong drum beat that carries you along, its followed by the meaty riffs of ‘Mighty Wings’ which grinds its way to its falsetto choruses. A most unusual track, ‘Mudslide’ has a mix of styles including elements of slide guitar, some Asian influences, a little hippy combined with blues, with a strange message. ‘Sarah O Sarah’ channels Toto within its harmonies whereas the classic Rock n’ Roll, happy clappy, ‘Hammer and Tongs’ is a fun, frivolous song. Finally the ‘Conquerors’ is a slower, more grown up song, again with Viking themes, Poullain takes the lead vocal role to give it a celtic edge and an epic ending to the album.
With ‘Last of Our Kind’, The Darkness demand to be taken seriously at last. Here is a collection of completely different songs, each stamped with The Darkness emblem, no two are alike, there is such variety and this is full of delightful surprises all the way through. Justin Hawkin’s vocals are rich in tone and smooth when he drops the falsetto, his brother is a superb musician and I think that gets lost at times, people see the image and write them off as being style over substance, here they prove they do more than one string to their bow. A glorious return to form.
Review by Lisa Nash