A band as uniquely progressive deserves an equally progressive description and I’ve struggled with it for almost a month now re-examining the breadth of genre and style expressed on their second full-length ‘Dawning’. The aggregate sound of Dark Hound is melodic thrash with a 90’s groove metal veneer that teeters between alternative metal, progressive thrash and escapes some of slow-paced modern rock doldrums of their self-titled debut. The alterna-metal touches seem rooted in subconscious influences from the early 2000 era of radio metal, which permeates groups like Gojira in the same way. It’s not as if they sound like Spineshank or Nothingface but there is a gloss and angst that pops up in their melody-heavy moments. In fact this is one of the more successfully melodic thrash-related albums I’ve heard in a few years. Dark Hound have a sense for memorable moments that never feels dumbed-down or cheap.
So, if I’m going to call this progressive thrash metal then qualifying that is going to be challenging because ‘Dawning’ is certainly not Devin Townsend or Vektor for that matter and it’d be misleading to throw around the word progressive in the sense of expected norms. Dark Hound recall an era of bands like Psychotic Waltz, Depressive Age and Anacrusis‘ ‘Screams and Whispers‘ in their mid-90’s prime where each band rejected the trappings of aggressive, high speed thrash in favor of catchier tracks and oddball progressive metal antics though those bands owed more to Voivod than Dark Hound owes to more modern rock/alternative music. With each song clocking in around 3-5 minutes you’re not getting huge epic tracks but rather several well thought out mid-paced thrash/groove songs that avoid the silly nu-metal pit riffs typically associated with groove metal.
Gross Reality released an album with similar intent and some similarly good melodic thrash ideas in 2017, but it pales in comparison with Dark Hound’s sense of variation and some really fantastic guitar performances. ‘Dawning’ doesn’t have the biggest, loudest most shredding guitar work around instead their clever riffs cherry-pick cool ideas from power metal, old school thrash, and it all stays relatively mid-paced and easy to digest. I don’t know if this appeals to my senses because I grew up in the 90’s/00’s but the combination of populist progressive metal and the lack of producer-molested ideas makes for 50 minutes of pretty decent stuff. They could have cut the playtime down to 40 minutes and worked on some of these ideas a bit longer; the last three tracks build up nicely but “Thrashgasm” accomplishes nothing and “Here Lies Truth” needed a little more time in the oven and leaves the album on a slightly sleepy note. Otherwise I was surprised that I even gave ‘Dawning’ a chance beyond the opener, yet pretty glad I did. I would suggest starting with the track “Guilt Tripper” if possible, it is a better introduction to the band’s ability to flip the script in and out of thrash/CKY/Voivod compared to the slightly doofy first track. Well worth giving a chance, it certainly grew on me despite a few early cringes.
|Released||January 19, 2018|
|Official Dark Hound Website||Follow Dark Hound on Facebook|
I don’t need eyes to see. 3.0/5.0
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