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Blessed by the Morrigan - 90%

GuntherTheUndying, April 21st, 2011

Saddest thing about Darkest Era? Well, they'll immediately be herded into Primordial's pen by most based on a quick listen. While it's clear Darkest Era takes a lot of influence from their Irish comrades, "The Last Caress of Light" imprints something of a different niche that may catch a lot of listeners off guard, but there's no reason to get alarmed by Darkest Era's poignant approach to the folk-fluent metal isles. The album soars through eight massive chapters branded by myths and atmospheres of Celtic lore, referencing everything from the earth's final sundown to their favorite goddess of fertility, because every Celtic-based band ever needs to name a song after the Morrigan.

"The Last Caress of Light" is far more than clichés and stereotypes, however. Darkest Era uses the Primordial equation – long, epic songs characterizing Celtic folk melodies and driving riffs usually backed by some form of drumming typically found in one or more metal sub-genres – but with the blackened tint turned down for a jam-orientated, melodic approach more in tune with Iron Maiden or other traditional metal groups. Not that they don't dive into the occasional doom burst or tremolo riff every lunar cycle or so, of course. Overall though, Darkest Era is spot-on musically. The atmosphere they end up whirling is emotive and flourishing with more power than a titan's fiery haymaker, not to mention they remain consistently stable from start to finish.

The band hardly shifts from the formula linked from the opening scores of "The Morrigan," but Darkest Era makes up for it with great song writing brought to you by explosive hooks and uncanny addictiveness. "An Ancient Fire Burns" has a glorious chorus, and it overall sounds equally tremendous as the ethereal opener. “Heathen Burial” and “Visions of the Dawn" continue the crusade wonderfully, flexing Darkest Era’s strengths from side to side in an identical fashion, but still one that captivates the playing field. "Poem to the Gael" brings the wind-riding soulfulness to a halt with a wonderful folk number based on Krum's fantastic vocals and acoustic guitars before Darkest Era reaches the mountain's peak throughout the ending cut, an eleven-minute track gushing incredible riffs, melodies, and an otherworldly sense of atmosphere.

It takes some time to fully appreciate "The Last Caress of Light," but wow...what a gigantic, underrated experience it becomes once it settles into your soul, like a budding seed finally finding stability in loose soil. Darkest Era has something very special. The lowest point of this record would be hailed a crowning achievement had it been released by a metal group residing in the medium of substance; "The Last Caress of Light" really is that good. Darkest Era may not be up your neck of the woods, but definitely give it a shot if you enjoy music that picks semblance over heaviness, embrace over attitude and elegance over candor.

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