Released: 2010, Battlegod Productions
After a near 8 year wait(!!),the new Dark Order is finally upon us. Since their last studio recording, THE VIOLENCE CONTINUUM (2002), the band line-up has completely changed with the exception of the band’s driving force – vocalist/guitarist Raul Ignacio Alvarez Garcia. In their eight year absence, other bands have come and gone - it’s a wonder after all this time that Dark Order managed to rise from the ashes. But it’s thanks to the convictions of Raul that they have returned to show the world that their form of thrash metal is still relevant and remains the finest of its kind from Australia. Although I wanted a Dark Order album sooner than this, the brilliance of this album makes it just about worth the wait.
Dark Order’s COLD WAR OF THE CONDOR is a concept album of historical non-fiction surrounding the brutal Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (September 1973 to March 1990). This is no doubt a story close to Raul as his family comes from Chile. You might think that the gamut of musical emotions required to cover such tragedy are perhaps not suited to a thrash metal band. However, when it comes to Dark Order, you’d be wrong. The band is not 100% limited by extremity – even though on the new album they sound angrier than ever. Thankfully there is room for melody, not as much on the vocals as one might perhaps prefer, but with the music and narration there is plenty of anger, sadness and loss, and perhaps a tinge of hope for a brighter tomorrow. This makes Dark Order something unique and special and is a reason why I have such respect for Raul and what he’s accomplished with Dark Order. Being from a country where not a lot of metal bands break out internationally, playing a style of real metal while not copying others, keeping the lyrics and inspirations both fresh, original, and real, is something that few others do.
The album opens with the militaristic march called “September 11th 1973” to the sounds of war, speeches, crowds chanting etc. Very dramatic. This makes way for the “Dissension Of The Raptor” which starts with some stunning thrash riffage – riffs that Scott Ian wish he’d be able to come up with for a new Anthrax album! Equally as powerful are the lyrics – mandatory reading while listening to get the full impact! Many here in the west do not know much about Chile or its history – hopefully reading these lyrics will open some eyes to what has happened because it’s still going on today….but wait, it’s time for American Idol and your fucking football game and you’d rather not learn or care unless it’s happening to you directly…this brand of apathy should not be tolerated as they are also a part of the problem with this fucked world.
After another amazing thrashy opening to “State of Siege” the band slips in some blackened death metal with some sick tremolo picked melodies before going back to the machine gun riffage of thrash. Next it’s the beautiful acoustic track called “A Lament for Victor Jara”. Raul sings this one really well giving me chills as you can really pick up on the emotion even though it’s not sung in English. This is a stand out song for sure conveying the sadness at the brutal way in which Victor Jara was murdered. (“Shortly after the Chilean coup of 11 September 1973, he was arrested, tortured and ultimately shot to death by machine gun fire. His body was later thrown out into the street of a shanty town in Santiago. The contrast between the themes of his songs, on love, peace and social justice and the brutal way in which he was murdered transformed Jara into a symbol of struggle for human rights and justice across Latin America.”).
Another highlight for me is the build up on “Caravan of Death” and the drumming really stands out with some unique sounding beats…same with the beginnings of “Villa Grimaldi”. I really enjoy these kind of thrashy riffs. The lyrics on “Villa Grimaldi” are especially brutal as you imagine that this shit really happened…reminiscent of the levels of depravity at Nazi concentration camps. Some slayer influence can be heard on “Operacion Siglo Viente” – not as much slayerisms as can be found on Dark Order’s debut, but it’s still there as an influence of course. The beginning of “Blood Fire” is also Slayer-esque reminiscent of “Angel of Death”. The album closer “Requiem Eternal” is a haunting melody with Raul singing in his rarely used clean voice – I think he should work on this and use it more. I’m sure Dark Order fans who are more from the brutal side would probably want the opposite but for me it gives the album depth and diversity which is a good thing.
Dark Order have really matured with COLD WAR OF THE CONDOR by tackling serious subject matter with outstanding results. If you are a fan of smart heavy thrash metal that has something important, you should check them out immediately.
Side story: the last time I received a Dark Order release in the mail, it came accompanied by a letter from the post office saying how the envelope might of come into contact with feces as it had accidently shipped on some sort of container containing cows or other animals. So thankfully this time the CD didn’t come all wrapped insome kind of bio-hazard plastic wrap! Ha!