The first time I was introduced to Sydney’s Darker Half was when they opened for Nightwish in January last year, and I remember being blown away by their ability to really nail that classic power metal sound, but also make it seem so fresh and exciting. With the release of their third album Never Surrender, those feelings I had while watching them live, remain as I sit here and listen to the record.
When I received the album stream for the record, the email’s subject line read: “For Fans Of Iron Maiden, Helloween, Holy Grail & Judas Priest,” and that really says it all. If you aren’t familiar with Darker Half, the second that album opener “Nemesis” starts you will automatically think of one or all of the bands mentioned above. But, are they simply recreating a classic sound and riding the coattails of nostalgia? No.
While Never Surrender is rooted in classic metal, Darker Half mix a variety of metal subgenres that keep the sound fresh, exciting and new. The album is also rooted in near perfection (I say near because nothing is ever 100% perfect), which actually makes this all the more harder to write about. What is there to say other than “it’s great”?
Never Surrender is track after track of heavy metal brilliance, with Vo Simpson’s distinct vocal range never failing to surprise you, the rhythm section of Simon Hamilton (bass) and Dominic Simpson (drums) keeping things tight and showing off their expertise, while the dual guitars of Vo and Brad Dickson, complete with mind blowing solos, round the album off nicely. It’s safe to say that every band is a unit, but sometimes members struggle to work well together, always striving to be the better than the rest. This is not the case. These boys are playing together, as one, no one is more important than another. If one member stumbles, the unit will fall.
The album does appear to be perfect, but it’s one flaw stems from the way each song follows a very similar structure, feeling like each was written following a set of blue prints. That isn’t to say there is no variety, they just each appear to follow the same pattern. “Stranger” adds progressive metal elements to the mix, while “Duality”and “Lost in Space” successfully combines thrash elements to the album.
There isn’t much left to say except that Never Surrender is a high quality album that any metal fan should add to their collection. Never Surrender will surely see Darker Half gain even more acclaim and praise both at home and around the globe.