Once the booming grooves barge in on the opener Locust you're thinking, this is a solid album. But, the many demons that possess Arkaea's debut, Years In The Darkness, via E1 Music bedevil the listening experience early. Once singer Jon Howard does his dual harsh and clean vocals, the band start moving downhill at a steady pace. The problem with his screams is they're plain, trendy, and generic. When he shifts to singing the melodies, it's something between angst-ridden teenager and Linkin' Park's Chester Bennington. He's damned either way. The first song itself keeps to its namesake; Locust is like a swarm of the pestilential insects blighting your musical pleasure in a dizzying mess of grooves, decibels, and alternating vocal styles.
Arkaea, being equal parts Fear Factory and Threat Signal, bring on the harshness for the thrashing Beneath the Shades of Grey. It's among the album's few decent songs, but tends to bore past two minutes. Then the title track rolls in and unravels the same way; by the time it ends in a prolonged burst of feedback, the listener is left praying for salvation. Unfortunately, a mixed bag of disgusting radio rock singles and worthy tunes has to be endured instead. Concerning the former, it's still surprising that labels force bands to compromise with MTV worthy hits on their albums when this method can only produce lackluster material. On Years In The Darkness such tracks as Gone Tomorrow, Lucid Dreams, the exceptionally horrendous Black Ocean and My Redemption deserve the skip button.
Are there any decent guitar solos to redeem this bottle-is-half-empty joyride? There are, but you'll be hard pressed noticing them. Ignoring the plain song titles and uneven quality of the songs, winning numbers like Awakening and Break the Silence manage to save the day, a little. Too bad an already teetering album has the brilliant luck to end with a hardcore metal (not metalcore, mind you) tinged closer, War Within. It really is too bad for Arkaea that, as if release dates were set at a strategic level, their debut comes out a few weeks prior to the new Divine Heresy. And guess what? Dino and Co. totally bury these guys. Sad.
It really is too bad for Arkaea that, as if release dates were set at a strategic level, their debut comes out a few weeks prior to the new Divine Heresy. And guess what? Dino and Co. totally bury these guys. Sad.