We first became aware of The Darker My Horizon at the tail end of last year when they supported Operation:Mindcrime at the Camden Underworld. Intrepid reviewer Katie Frost described their performance as fun and upbeat and came away with the band’s debut album Acquiesce. This band may be new to the Moshville Times but the band members may be familiar to some of you, as the guitarist and lead vocalist of Sacred Heart.
The band have already chalked up some fantastic support slots such as Nazareth as well as Operation:Mindcrime and it’s not hard to see why. This is melodic hard rock at its best. I’ve reviewed quite a few hard rock albums in the past few months and there has been a tendency to lean toward 80’s style hair rock whereas The Darker My Horizon have more in common with bands such as Thunder and even Mr Big. With this they can manage to tread that fine line between heart felt melodic rock and presenting it in a good old fashioned sing along upbeat rock style.
At 15 tracks long there are plenty of songs to talk about on Acquiesce but I am just going to select a few of the stand out tracks that really sum up the album as a whole for me. The first two of those are “Can’t Stop the Rain” and “OK”.
What I like about the former is that it is one of those really simple rockers that would be good in any live set. It’s a simple rhythm but catchy, simple lyrics and solos are cast throughout the song but the progressive chord changes in the chorus give a real feel good factor to this song. “OK” particularly caught my attention because it its classic melodic metal song and I really loved the chorus. Vocally for several listens it had me guessing what it sounded like and it eventually hit me; it is very reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson’s “Tattooed Millionaire”. This isn’t a bad thing though – Bruce’s album is great and the mimicry of a particular catchy earworm from that album doesn’t go amiss. It’s also a great reference point to what Acquiesce is like in parts
“Summer Time” instantly gets your attention. It has a simple acoustic guitar intro but the melody on the vocals is instantly engaging and this only improves with the introduction of the full band 30 seconds in. Again it’s a simple rock pop song. The chorus is strong with its ‘summer days and Summer nights’ refrain. I think it is also worth mentioning that there is also a heavier rock side to this album, present on songs like “Gasoline & Opium” and “Closer” but it is “Afraid” which is my favourite of this style. It has a great underlying more metal crunchy guitar throughout and demonstrates a different element to the band and one which I imagine will work well in the live mix.
One of the most interesting themes on this album is that singer Paul Stead does not always write his songs from his own or even a man’s perspective and that is quite a refreshing thing to hear, and to be honest I can’t recall off the top of my head whether I have even seen this done so obviously before. The best example of this is the narrative song “The Road”. The songs itself is a standout track on the album but this other side perspective makes it an even greater song. Emotionally and musically the song grips you anyway, the guitars being low to let the narrative take place and then increasing the backing guitars and introducing a solo to mirror the story line and the actions within it. On the whole though it’s a tale of strength and moving forward from a bad situation and wining your way through, triumphant. “There’s Gotta Be” is also written about a lady if not form the female perspective as such. Just our lead character in this tale is a lady. Again its emotional and talks of strength and pulling through: ‘There’s gotta to be a reason to make it through the night’.
“In the Dark”, although quite late on the album, is the first pure piano led ballad. Simple in its structure, one voice, one piano very lightly played. Lyrically as you would expect it’s a bit of weeper, tales of lost love, missed opportunities. Sitting up at 3am still in love but knowing that you have blown it. This was the single that put out but this is definitely the lighter side of the band and although a great track the full band experience outweighs this for me on the whole.
Acqiuesce is a great debut album and really flies the flag for British hard rock bands. This is one of those albums that you can play again and again and I can imagine many, many people falling engrossingly in love with some of the songs. The Darker My Horizon have promised they are going to follow this album up with another shortly and I look forward to see how they progress. In the meantime, I can see them being picked for a lot more support slots in the forthcoming months. Catch them now, while you still can.