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'Severance' is the sophomore album from Belfast based, Celtic metallers Darkest Era and, judging by the amount of positive reviews and publicity this has already received, it is an album that is being widely looked forward to my many people. It is undoubtedly a good album, full of Celtic and Irish sound bites, very reminiscent in places of Thin Lizzy, Primordial and Iron Maiden. It is also extremely well played and produced in such a way that there is no doubt that what you can hear is a band playing their instruments with no tricks. It is well sung, the guitars are great and the drumming is full of surprises and a real pleasure to listen to. Of course, all of these things are wonderful news and many bands could do with taking a leaf out of Darkest Era's book, but yes, there is a 'BUT'!

I don't know if it's the mood I'm in but I am finding 'Severance' a very melanchic album and I'm not engaging with it like I thought I would. Lyrics, chords, solos and riffs, good as they are, seem to be very sad and I want something a little more positive at the moment. I've nothing against that style, indeed much Celtic music is based around those themes, so I suppose it's understandable that the band might sound a bit like that, but having the whole album played in that style is, unfortunately, denting my enthusiasm somewhat.

It doesn't help that I do really want to like 'Severance'. Darkest Era have found a great mix of old and new in their sound - the Iron Maiden influences scream quality, just listen to 'The Scavenger', which is my favourite track on the album and arguably the song which displays the most positive sound. Actually, I do think the album gets better as it goes on, I certainly like the last four tracks more; however, I'm not sure if that's my brain warming to what they are doing more or that those tracks are in fact better. I might have plumped for the former reason but, whenever I go back to the beginning and listen again, that same feeling of sadness and disconnection hits! Regardless of my seeming inability to come to terms with what Darkest Era are all about, 'Severance' is still a fine album and one which will indeed be welcomed with open arms by many people. Perhaps what I need is to witness them live for everything to click into place.
Cruz Del Sur
Review by Rick Tilley
16th June 2014
1) Sorrow's Boundless Realm
2) Songs of Gods and Men
3) The Serpent and the Shadow
4) Beyond the Grey Veil
5) Trapped in the Hourglass
6) The Scavenger
7) A Thousand Screaming Souls
8) Blood, Sand and Stone
"Darkest Era have found a great mix of old and new in their sound..."