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Darkness - Blood On Canvas review


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Band: Darkness
Album: Blood On Canvas
Style: Thrash metal
Release date: April 2024

01. Wake Up In A Rage
02. A Couple Of Kills
03. Night In Turmoil
04. Human Flesh Wasted
05. This And My Heart Beside
06. Truth Is A Whore
07. Defcon Four
08. Roots Of Resistance
09. Blood On Canvas

Hello Darkness my old friend.

Next to the American thrash scene, Germany has one of the most vibrant and successful scenes globally; similar to America, it has its own big 4, and a strength in depth that means digging for more music usually garners gold rather than duds. This strength was due to bands like Darkness producing records such as Death Squad, which, as good as they are (hint, hint), are overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Having returned to the dark side in 2012, Darkness have put riff to wax and produced new material, with Blood On Canvas their latest effort after a six-year gap.

Unfortunately, Blood On Canvas is perhaps the band's weakest effort in their post-reunion years, rarely exhibiting anything beyond middle-of-the-road quality. This is not to say that it is a bad album, but I struggle to hear much in the way of reason to return to the album anytime soon. In a year when bands like Morbid Saint are putting out similarly overdue records, Blood On Canvas falls short in comparison.

This isn't to say that you won't find anything to set your pulse racing on the album, as there are moments that hint at unrealised potential. The opening "Wake Up In Rage" can't be accused of faulty advertising, while the following "A Couple Of Kills" does raise expectations. However, it is from here that the album becomes more patchy, with "Human Flesh Wasted" the next track to catch the ear, with some solid guitar work.

The real highlight, however, comes at the end of the album, with the closing eight-minute title track showing a level of ambition and songwriting that makes you wonder how the band didn't produce more songs of this level in six years, as they are evidently still capable of it. The slow-building sombreness gives way to a track that builds and crashes against your eardrums like waves in a storm. Had there been more of this, then Blood On Canvas would be a career renaissance that would have the band more spoken about than their spandex-wearing namesakes in The Darkness.

This lack of sonic ambition is what ultimately hinders the album, with tracks like "Nights In Turmoil" and "Truth Is A Whore" sounding limp and pedestrian in a crowded genre. While the latter does feature some nice guitar work, it isn't enough to salvage the song as a whole. It doesn't help that I am not sold on Weinberg's vocals, somehow finding a middle ground between shouting and singing that won't please fans of either style, lacking enough conviction in either approach. The band isn't aided by its production work, which gives the songs a modern polish, yet the band don't seem to fill the space afforded to them by this.

While not a bad album, Blood On Canvas will unlikely maintain much of a profile in a year already burgeoning with solid releases in the thrash genre. Hello Darkness my old friend, I will wait until you try again.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Production: 6

Written on 10.05.2024 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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