GSTV’s Mad Dog Blogger reviews new album by LA rockers Beware of Darkness
By The Mad Dog
One of the best new albums of the year is by LA-based Beware of Darkness. What would you expect if early Queen fronted by Arctic Monkey‘s Alex Turner got together with QOTSA and asked Leonard Cohen to sit in on some muddy Black Keys-ish riffs ?
Here you have it all on debut album “Orthodox”. Though it is anything but orthodox, this album is not only thumpy and lumpy in its licks but very, very interesting in its presentation. This would have been a double album in the days of vinyl so the CD is split into four parts – Ignorance, Loss, Depression and Enlightment – there, stick that in your pipe and light up !!
The song-writing power of lead man Kyle Nicolaides belies his age – he must have fibbed on his birth certificate – either that or he’s spent his whole life in therapy and this album is the manifestation of all that angst and life experience. This guy is probably one of the brightest young talents around. He’s got a truck load of issues bumbling around in his head, much of it surrounding death, which is a recurring theme on this album. But he’s also penned some beautiful phrases and hooks.
There are many facets and layers to this album – definitely one which needs to be played all the way through, every time. Setting out to write an album like Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Nicolaides “wanted to make a record like that – complete, full and meaningful”. And that, he most surely has done in parts.
The opener “Howl” is an orgasmic explosion of a cut – the best “first track, side one” I’ve heard in many, many years. With a mindblowing, and again “interesting” riff, it slows into a bluesy break before an ear-pounding chorus – wow.
This seques nicely into Sweet Girl, the type of song Primal Fear wishes they’d written (instead of that shite they came up with on their most recent album)…,,”I wish I was a surgeon so I could rip your heart right open, and I could find the spot which broke me”…you tell her Kyle…..she deserved that, obviously.
The rest of the album follows suit – with a complete, and these days, unusual absence of any weak tracks. There are ballads in Morning Tea, where Nicolaides spouts out a beauty in the style of those timeless Bowie/Ronson arrangements, and Amen Amen and a cool but gloomy riff on Ghost Town which is what you’d get if you handed Tony Iommi a cello and told him to go to town on it.
This is an album of astounding maturity, steeped in melancholia and veneered in quality. A stunning debut. Handpicked by The Smashing Pumpkins for their current European tour, Beware of Darkness has a helluva future, as long as Nicolaides’ demons don’t get the better of him in the meantime. Very highly recommended.