Darkest Era – “Severance” (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Brought to the fore by Primordial’s Alan Averill as the next generation of pagan Celtic metallers, Ulster’s Darkest Era arrived in 2011 with their pagan passion on “The Last Caress of Steel” debuting on Metal Blade no less. Since then they’ve been touring relentlessly and undergone significant line up changes as well as a shift to Cruz Del Sur, a label guitarist co founder Ade Mulgrew has been touch with since he was a fan. With the core of the band in founder guitarist Sarah Wieghell and man mountain vocalist Krum still intact, “Severance” thankfully doesn’t mark a shift in the band’s sound but an incredible maturing and opening up of the band as they’ve found their feet on tour and with the pressure of delivering to a tighter schedule compared to their debut, where they had songs stored prior to signing. Soundwise the band have also showed their self confidence going for a more straightforward production with less atmospherics, allowing their musicianship to the talking very much in the vein of their inspirations like Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden, but also Primordial and Paradise Lost. They’re certainly there in the Celtic melodies and the grittier dual attack guitars but it’s the pagan magic which they conjure that really evokes the true atmosphere of songs like ‘A Thousand Screaming Souls’, ‘The Serpent and the Shadow’ and epic closer ‘Blood, Sand And Stone’ – deeply passionate, heart felt and soul shaking in its rawest emotive sense! Without a shadow of a doubt it’s the awesome vocals of Krum that really carries the material to that special high, attained through his powerful, soulful singing that shifts amidst the guitar furor to pagan wailing yet in such a wild, natural way. These guys have come a long way since the Enniskillen school bus, gone is their youth and their need for succor, instead arisen as the pagan warrior poets instilled with the pride n passion of their ancestors on the Emerald Isle!