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Dark Matter | ‘The Sovereign Night’

It’s not easy trying to make an instrumental metal album.

Metal is always better when it has a point to make: making that without vocals requires extraordinary skill.

So I’ve been asking myself what Dark Matter’s point is, when listening to this.

Shed them of the spacey imagery, and what does this music – just the music – say?

Well, I’d wager the answer is probably best found in the live environment, where their music can properly surround you.

Opener ‘The Mechanics Of Detachment’ is decent but fairly run of the mill Post up until the faster beat near the end; it’s not the most dynamic start.

‘Oblivion Theory’ however is much, much better, building to a blistering blast crescendo and keyboard led relief that definitely evokes the starry.

So too does ‘Anamnesis’ – the whole album’s highlight – that immediately evokes The Gathering’s ‘Nighttime Birds’ right from its first note.

That’s a comparison lovingly developed as the song goes on, from the clean strummed chords to the portamento effect on the keyboards. It’s absolutely delicious, harking to ‘Kevins Telescope’ before it all gets a bit heavier.

The guitars in generally should be heavier, I’d offer, and ‘Hollowing’ shows why. They’re just not crunchy enough to handle the riffing style or the pinch harmonics, which die sadly on their arse.

Around this point, at the halfway mark, it gets a bit hard to sustain interest. It’s very much variations on a theme, particularly when the keyboards exit and it’s just guitar bass and drums.

‘Hour Of Departure’ toward the back has a Paradise Lost bent, and impresses with some strong double kick underpinning.

With many band’s self releases, I’m always stressing how much better they could have been had they been shorter. It hardly bears reiterating for Dark Matter except to say that there’s more at stake in their case because of the challenging nature of instrumental metal generally.

It *is* a big ask to get through eight tracks of what are essentially the same track in differing shades.

I like it; I like spacey metal generally, and this is well executed. I just don’t know what it leads to, why it is what it is, and I cant help thinking vocals and lyrics would have told me that – because (and this is the acid test) the music doesn’t, at least not fully.

It has occasionally beautiful moments – but I’d say its all a shade samey for my own taste.

2.8 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 29/04/18

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