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Darkness were hardly one of the forerunners in the Teutonic thrash scene, but their debut at least offered a modicum of success in biting off the style of bigger, better bands. Not the case for their sophomore Defenders of Justice, an album that was the very definition of mediocrity. Apparently, some of the members must have felt the same way, because their third and final studio effort, Conclusion & Revival features a new vocalist in Rolf Druschel, who had a more manic sound that occasionally reminds me of Joey Belladonna with a bit more bark to him. They also picked up a new bassist, Timo Oehlke, who is featured more prominently in the compositions, with a loud tone that rivals the guitar through most of the heavier tunes.
Conclusion & Revival is a strange beast, and for at least a sizable chunk of the album, the band seem to be suffering an identity crisis. You've got some average, pummeling thrash tunes like "The Omniscient", "Soldiers" and "Price of Fame" which are just flooded with bass plucking and thin but serviceable riffs that feel busier than they are distinct; then the band also veers into a more mean heavy/speed metal vibe on "Burial", "Under Control", the latter featuring some synths and a proggish, interesting chorus. But some of the band's experiments go a little to far, in that they must have been jokes that only the band found funny: "Faded Pictures" begins like some mockery of bad 80s pop, with dopey vocals, pitch shifted squeals and terrible bass funk. By the time it goes metal (and decently), I was already phasing out. "All Left to Say" is 4 and a half minutes of bar room blues, which gets ridiculous once Ray starts screaming. There are some other wasted moments here, like the slap/pop bass intro to "Burial", and the synth opener to the album which is like a bad 80s horror score with no worthwhile payoff.
The production to the LP doesn't help, for as I mentioned, the bass is a wee bit loud here. It's apparent that they wanted to show some of Timo's skills off, but as good as he is, it just doesn't make for a compelling mix. The vocals are fairly weak throughout, not even to the level of the guy's predecessor Oliver Fernickel, and the whole affair feels like a train about to crash. If I'm going to give it any credit at all, it's that somehow, despite the many faults, it's at least more interesting than Defenders of Justice, which was flatline boring. I found myself scratching my head to this a number of times, and not because it's all so hideous. Darkness had found a fairly unique sound, but they would have really needed to polish it up and present functional songs for it to fly off the handle. (Not so) sadly, it just wasn't going to happen, and this was goodbye.
Sometimes you cannot understand some things. You keep on trying to understand but you miserably fail as this album does. I don’t know, I cannot remember how many times I tried to understand some musical changes by some bands and still nowadays some of those changes are not clear to me. One of those is surely this album by Darkness. After having released two very good examples of german thrash metal, these guys changed almost completely the music.
There’s even the time to be deluded by this band when we face the track “Soldiers”. It’s fast and vicious but you can already hear the change inside because it’s far more different than the previous tracks by this band in the previous albums. The speed metal is more rooted and evident with influences also from the traditional metal. The tempo is generally fast as on “The Omniscient” too but the violence is less present and also the new vocalist has a more speed metal tonality that, anyway, go well with the band’s new direction.
The bass is heavily present and pounding in every composition and you can hear it well because the guitars distortion is less heavy than in the past and now some Iron Maiden style guitars/bass duets can be found too. The production is essential but not so bad. The semi mid-paced tracks like “Under Control” and “Burial” are not incisive and the refrains are something really new for the band, with lot of catchy melodies and so on. “Bass” is an acoustic track where the bass sound is the only one that can be heard and I think that was not so necessary because you could hear it in the whole album playing more incisive parts. It’s just a filler song.
“Price of Fame” is incredibly weak and bland even if it’s a bit faster. The vocals are more melodic and sometimes they reach high peaks in power/speed metal style but we reach the bottom with “All Left To Say”: it’s a pub track where you can hear the band playing live blues/rock in front of the crowd. It’s a shocking song. There’s nothing left to say. It’s crap. The final “Beside my Grave” doesn’t say anything new despite being a bit faster but always in speed metal patterns and surely cannot compete with the older tracks by this band.
Reaching the end of this album is an undertaking that even Ulysses can’t achieve. It’s a pure boredom 40 minute album. The faster tracks are not incisive and the musical change didn’t convince me, not at all. Look, I’m not against those changes but when a band is able to do well a certain genre, why do they must destroy everything trying something that is not their cup of tea? Avoid unless you have difficulties in falling asleep at night. This is a burning disappointment.
Darkness had actually produced a couple of decent thrash albums before they released their final studio album entitled "Conclusion and revival" in 1989.
Where previous albums like “Death Squad” or “Defenders of Justice” excelled, this album fails. The previously mentioned albums were hardcore thrash, all tracks were non stop speed combined with hard style fitting vocals. This albums fails in that department miserably, long gone are the hard vocals, being replaced with some mediocre hard rock voice on top of a hard rock track.
The only thing that actually got better was the quality of the production, the album does sound better, too bad that the quality of the tracks went downhill. There is even a bluesy pub track on the album, “All left to say” which is just a shock when you compare this to the previous albums.
The album still has some songs like “Beside my grave” and “Soldiers” where the old thrash “Darkness” appears in parts of the songs, but overall this is not enough to keep you from thinking: “They dissolved into a mediocre hard rock band”.
The only highlight of the entire album is the quality of the bass, it’s obvious to hear that this guy can play a mean bass. Just listen to “Bass”, “Burial” or “Under control”.
This is not a bad heavy metal/hard rock album, but fans of the older material be warned!