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Absolon - 2012 Darkness Rising: The Tale Of Derek Blackheart

ARTIST: Absolon
ALBUM: Darkness Rising: The Tale Of Derek Blackheart
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Ken Pike - vocals, guitar * Ed Dumas - guitars * Axel - drums, backing vocals * Will Cochran - bass, backing vocals * Dave Mikeal - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 What Have I Done, The Beginning * 02 The Master Calls * 03 Nail Head * 04 Darkness Rising Interlude * 05 Darkness Rising * 06 Pretender * 07 Even Heroes Fall * 08 Devstation Suffocation * 09 The Escape Part 1 * 10 The Escape Part II * 11 Eulogy * 12 Breaking News * 13 Screaming In The Dark * 14 State Of Mind * 15 The Master Calls Reprise * 16 Death's Frozen Sting



Absolon might be a new band to many, but the key instigator of this outfit is singer Ken Pike, who's name is well remembered with white metallers Malachia back in the mid 80's. The Californian Christian rockers had a cult following back in the CCM hair metal days, but Pike was more interested in a darker shade of grey, hence his love affair with all things Queensryche. By 1988 and upon the release of 'Operation Mindcrime', Pike knew he had found his musical calling, and knew also that Malachia weren't going to provide that musical avenue, so he departed for Florida leaving the band on good turns. However it would take decades before anything of a Queensryche oriented sound would eventuate. During the 90's, Ken had his own band The Turnpikes who were doing anything and everything other than metal. In recent times though, Ken's newest project Absolon is exactly where he feels comfortable. Absolon is a hybrid of old school metal. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queensryche and Crimson Glory; crossing paths with modern metal outfits such as Kamelot, Texan prog/power metallers Stride and a raft of European power metallers with a symphonic edge. The other interesting note about Absolon and their music, is that former MPG guitarist David Mikeal is the producer for this CD (engineered in Orlando FL), and he also appears on keyboards.

The Songs
So what of the album 'Darkness Rising'? Let's not leave off the other most important part of the title: 'The Tale Of Derek Blackheart'. Yes, it's a concept album, and that's where the storytelling epicness is compared to Queensryche and Kamelot. The protagonist is Derek Blackheart, a guitar hero who in his early years would give everything to become the biggest heavy metal band in the world. He seals a deal with the Dark Master (much like Nicholas Cage in the movie Ghost Rider), that would convert the masses to the 'dark side'. But at the height of his fame, Blackheart realises this is all wrong, and takes his own life to escape the deal. But even in death, Derek Blackheart cannot escape the Dark Master.. and therein lies the theme across the 16 tracks on the album. Musically it's epic symphonic metal, but it's a bit on the mournful side mostly, with hard and fast parts thanks to Ed Dumas mind-bending guitar parts, but when the band do melancholy, it's done so in relation to the storyline. Lilting guitar melodies, plus the odd keyboard and piano section. The track listing includes full-blown metal, quiet and forlorn interludes and instrumentals. Ken Pike definitely nails the Geoff Tate vocal style, while Dumas is one of Florida's premier metal guitarists.

In Summary
When reading reviews elsewhere on the Net, it was quite surprising to read so many from white metal and christian rock sites. I didn't get any vibe about Christianity in any of these songs, and can suggest that it's because of Ken Pike's past that he has been featured as such. Considering Queensryche in both their original and spin-off versions are not providing long time fans with anything worthy, some of you might want to find alternatives; if so have a listen to Absolon. According to their website, the band have added two new personnel (a second guitarist Tyler and fulltime keyboardist Jen Paccione-Diaz), and are gearing toward something substantial with this CD and beyond.

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#1 | gdazegod on April 22 2013 12:19:39
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#2 | gdazegod on April 22 2013 12:20:48
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