February 1, 2023

New Fury Media

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Darko US mark explosive arrival with self-titled debut album (review)

Darko, a deathcore/metalcore duo from the minds of vocalist Tom Barber (Chelsea Grin, ex-Lorna Shore) and drummer Josh “Baby J” Miller (Emmure, ex-Glass Cloud), have released their long-awaited debut LP, Darko.

Darko made a huge splash in 2020 with the release of their EP Pt. 1 Dethmask,  a 7-song/14-minute stretch of unhinged brutality that showed the band meant business. Ever since, the group has slow-dripped monumental singles like “Insects”, “Pretenders”, and “Pale Tongue” ahead of this debut LP.

The regular point of contention in albums, the non-singles, are on par with (and sometimes even better than) the singles. “Praise the Sun” makes the switch between downtempo barbarity and on-brand Darko havoc. When Darko isn’t a raging powerhouse, the slower, more sentimental tracks, “Donna”, “Daniel”, and “If This Is Forever”, garner goosebumps even if they interrupt the frenetic pace. The features (Hey again Ben Duerr, you’re everywhere!) make a lot of sense, as the revered Courtney LaPlante of Spiritbox and Johnny Reeves of Kingdom of Giants get ample time in “Daniel”.

What makes Darko stand out from the group is the sheer barrage of the instrumentals layered under Barber’s impeccable vocal range. The extensive history of the two members is on display, with Baby J’s tempo-changing technical prowess and Barber’s highs, lows, and everything in-between. One can just picture the chaos of the pits that Darko would bring about in a live environment.

The aesthetic of Darko is worthy of note, too. Each single was accompanied with gorgeous album artwork, and the merch drop for the album included eye-popping neon designs, boasting a limited-stock mask that gives off villainous vibes. Add on the high-quality music videos like the disturbing “Mars Attacks” and the genuinely tear-jerking “Donna”, and it’s easy to tell the two have invested as much (if not more) time into this “side project”.

It’s already been a great year for this style of metal music, with Brand of Sacrifice, ERRA, and Termina all astonishing listeners in 2021. That heavy hype train continues with Darko. Last month, the band posted that they were already in the studio for LP2 – it wouldn’t be a far cry to expect that to come at the end of the year/early 2022. Spin Darko today and expect more soon!

Rating: 9/10

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