“Not saying that all Irish people are moping around like miserable bastards but....you know.” Darkest Era sound like a trip to the job centre on a wet Monday. They can't help it. Hailing from Northern Ireland, a country overlooked by slate grey skies and pocketed by shadowy lakes and mountains (it provided the backdrop for many Game Of Thrones scenes), this up-and-coming five-piece are comparable to Grand Magus minus the serotonin, or Thin Lizzy gone glum.
Darkest Era: "We wanted to break out of a hometown hero mentality"
We introduce you to the newest Celtic metallers on the block
“We've never been happy writing happy-go-lucky, galloping power metal. We've always wanted to have a darker, more melancholic vibe to our stuff,” says the band's guitarist Ade Mulgrew. “If you look at any metal band from here like Primordial, Mael Mórdha, Altar Of Plagues, Graveyard Dirt, Mourning Beloveth there is a thread of melancholy running through the stuff. Maybe it's just symptomatic of being from here.”
Needless to say that Severance is not the cheeriest thing you'll hear in 2014. It is however an album that deserves your attention and which fuses Celtic influence with strident twin guitars and a heavyweight sense of doom while joining the dots on true heavy metal à la Maiden and the UK’s resurgence in dark sludgy sounds.
The three mainstays of Darkest Era – Ade, Sarah Wieghell and Krum – met at school. Guitarist Sarah was into power metal at the time, Krum (vocals) listened to Slayer and Ade dug “straight-up metal like Slough Feg,” but they bonded over Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Bathory. Together they forged a sound that gradually got them noticed in the far reaches of Greece and Finland thanks to MySpace before Metal Blade snapped them up for their first release, The Last Caress Of Light.
In the small town where the band hung out there are only about 5,000 people, so getting signed was kind of a big deal.
“It's easy for bands in small scenes to get a hometown hero mentality but we wanted to break out of that. We were quite ambitious really,” says Ade.
But any band knows that the ride ain't always easy and after a taste of success with their debut and tours with Alestorm and Gloryhammer, Darkest Era were forced to look for a new bassist and drummer at which point Daniel O'Toole and Cameron Åhslund-Glass came on board. “The second album was written in a really stormy period for the band. Things were falling apart,” Ade cares to admit. “The fact that it got made and we came out the other side is an achievement in itself.” Yet he ends on a positive note:
“Things have levelled out now and we're really excited. We're over in the UK later in the year, we just have to take a deep breath before the plunge.”
Severance will be released on 16th June. Pre-order it here.