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Dark Suns

Experimental/Post Metal

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Dark Suns Grave Human Genuine album cover
3.89 | 82 ratings | 8 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stampede (3:08)
2. Flies in Amber (9:53)
3. Thornchild (7:11)
4. Rapid Eyes Moment (7:21)
5. Amphibian Halo (5:16)
6. The Chameleon Defect (6:08)
7. Free of You (8:42)
8. Papillon (10:28)

Total Time 58:04

Bonus track on 2008 digipack SE:
9. 29 (6:25)

Line-up / Musicians

- Niko Knappe / vocals, drums
- Maik Knappe / guitars
- Torsten Wenzel / guitars
- Thomas Bremer / keyboards

- Andy Schmidt "Vurtox" / vocals (2)
- Kristoffer Gildenl÷w / bass

Releases information

Artwork: Niko Knappe with Nadine Fisher (photo)

CD Prophecy Productions ‎- PRO 095 (2008, Germany) Digipack SE with a bonus track

Thanks to The Fool for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine ratings distribution

(82 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by laplace
4 stars Hopefully, Dark Suns' ultimate goal is this: to write an album that sounds more like itself than its influences. Grave Human Genuine forges a certain distance ahead but doesn't entirely escape similarity with four cornerstones of interesting metal - Tool, Opeth, Anathema and Pain of Salvation - still, the album offers much more variety than any of them thanks to superior songwriting and a subtle sensitivity with which arguably similar bands (such as recent Porcupine Tree) cannot compare. We also find that the band has not only a broad range between soft and heavy, but a second axis that lets them explore realms outside of metal, the music also spanning acoustic rock, a modern day King Crimson-like future world music persona, a menacing, super-Ulveric trip-hop and a sort of modest, thinking-person's sludge, never hopping quickly enough to rob the songs of consistency, nor the band of a personality.

This all adds up to a wonderfully insidious album which employs the strengths of doomy traditional metal while shedding its excesses (harsh vocals are reined in and dispensed only at suitable moments, and there's almost no double pedalling, no heroic soloing and no Iron Maiden-style song structure at all) and twisting its efficient core around a peculiar and experimental strain of atmospheric progressive rock. The vocalist can sing respectably, in a passingly fey way, but sometimes chooses to haunt the music with whispers and half-sung declarations, rarely remaining in the same mode for two consecutive lines. Instrumentation differs noticeably between passages and synths play an important and sometimes emphasised role, granting The Chameleon Defeat with a heavy symphonic atmosphere. If you've read some of my other reviews - or my regrettable forum posts - then you'll know that I have a distaste for guitar over-saturation, so you'll be relieved to know that I thought the guitars were played with a meticulous ear for space and a composer's feel for aptness. Walls of sound do still occur, but this is metal, after all, and innovative enough to admit without complaint.

The rhythms are something really special, so the relevant section should be proud of themselves as thanks to them, a lot of the songs show the effortless confidence you'd associate with Tool's music and involve more musical progression - Dark Suns can do calmness and texture as well as anyone, but can also bring touches of perversion (a good thing!), disquiet and jazz-informed sophistication when it's necessary. Their songs aren't circular at all, mostly being embellished updates on traditional ballad structure, possessing of a certain pre-occupying quality which allows them to remain unpredictable. By this reviewer's standards, a rare success in metal.

If you're reading this review and imagining you'll like the album, then go confirm your suspicions by listening the sample here; Flies in Amber should be a break-out track by anyone's standards, showing a band conscious of - as their album cover hints - musical genuinity, who push their compositional talents to the fore and then play the song with personality and guile. Notice that although passages were repeated, the song's rotates enough for ten whole minutes that it can still surprise at the last.

If there's anything amiss on Grave Human Genuine then blame the lyrics, which can clunk. That's nothing unusual in metal, but it feels strangely regrettable to have overwrought and archly ambiguous/ambiguously arch philosophons spoken over such finely-tuned music, ambitious in a quiet, unpretentious way. All's not lost, though - there are often lengthy instrumental sections and the voice isn't overpowering at any time on the album. Perhaps you'll like the texts more than I did.

A note on extremism: Dark Suns aren't guilty! While most metal bands who dabble in harshness like to riff you into a catatonic state with inevitability and chromed distortion, Dark Suns mete out vicious heaviness in tight doses, never more than required. No, they aren't going to pummel you into the ground like Bolt Thrower, because their music has a different concern - being entertaining in more than one style. I'm a heathen mixtape compiler but it'd feel wrong to disassemble Grave Human Genuine because, since each song occupies a different principality of the band's world, taking one track from the album would give the wrong impression. Yes, this is usually the way defense of a weak concept album reads, but you can believe in me - I don't care about concepts at all so I have the music in mind. ;P

I think I'd recommend this album to people who *aren't* into progressive metal because this is a sweet exception with no cheesy or monomaniacal properties. I'll keep my eyes on Dark Suns because if they continue to progress, to grow and to keep becoming that little bit harder to compare with bands whose names come more readily to mind, they'll make your next landmark album, and hopefully, mine. Four stars, and my favourite new album thus far into 2008.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Interesting that Kristoffer Gildenlow formerly of PAIN OF SALVATION guests as the bass player on this record. Interesting because there are less POS references on this one compared to the "Existence" album. The band thanks POS as well as DEAD SOUL TRIBE among others in the liner notes. This is an excellent recording, it's dark and heavy with lots of atmosphere. It doesn't measure up at all to the great concept album "Existence" in my opinion. That one just blew me away with the power,emotion and the lyrics.

"Stampede" opens with a dark atmosphere that is broken by heavy drums, bass and guitar. It calms right down before 2 1/2 minutes with some piano coming and going. "Flies In Amber" is extremely heavy early as synths come in. Guitar arrives before it settles down with reserved vocals. A nice heavy sound continues. Death vocals after 2 1/2 minutes which are contrasted with the reserved ones. The drummer is beating the hell out of his kit. Love the heaviness after 4 1/2 minutes. Blistering guitar 8 minutes in as synths play along. Great track. "Thornchild" opens with fragile vocals. Not a fan. Fortunately they are flattened by a wall of sound a minute in. Vocals are back but sound a little flat for some reason. This is a good mid-paced tune with background synths. Fat bass 4 1/2 minutes in with tribal-like percussion. I really like the guitar 6 1/2 minutes in.

"Rapid Eyes Moment" sounds familiar. Gentle guitar to open as other sounds are added. It is fairly pastoral as drums arrive 2 minutes in. Reserved vocals a minute later. I like the background synths. Before 4 1/2 minutes the heaviness arrives and it sounds incredible. It changes late to a percussion / electronic melody as it blends into the next song "Amphibian Halo".This one features dark piano sounds as percussion and electronics continue. Cool sound. Synths join in. We get some power 1 1/2 minutes in with sinister vocals to follow. This sounds amazing ! "The Chameleon Defect" opens with a light but catchy melody that is ruined by a long blast of noise. The annoying noise is back 2 1/2 minutes in. It's not often that I turn my music down, but for this i'll make an exception. The last 2 minutes of the song are tasteful though. "Free Of You" is a mellow track with fragile vocals coming in after a minute. Drums follow. The guitar 2 1/2 minutes in is the highlight for me. The vocals just don't do a lot for me on this one at times. A brighter sound 4 minutes in. It's ok I guess.

"Papillion" features the I Should Have Studied Mathematics String Quartet. 2 violins, a viola and a cello. Spoken words to start before vocals arrive 2 minutes in. Heaviness thankfully comes in right after the soft vocals. Angry vocals 4 1/2 minutes in. There is about 1 1/2 minutes of dead silence before soft vocals and piano come in. I waited for this !

I think 4 stars is fair because this has some killer songs, but it's a small 4 stars in my opinion because the last three songs are pretty weak, especially when compared to the earlier ones.

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Originally reviewed for Progressive (Don't mind the star rating so much and read the review - in short, a good and satisfying album!)

This is genuinely Grave, man. If I were to look at the album as a whole, a grave and grim picture is what I would paint. Heavy and dark, this album has more to it than

The name of the album is a bit weird, but as the press release says, it symbolizes the three characteristics of this recording. The most prominent of these that comes up when listening is, as I said above, Grave. The riffs, the drumming, the overall atmosphere is that of seriousness and indeed that of gravity. However there is a counter response to that grim and cumbersome feel in the form of the flute and delicate vocals, both reminding me of Deadsoul Tribe and Devon Graves (pun?).

Indeed, had I not known I was listening to Dark Suns, I'd have thought at first listen that Flies In Amber, Thornchild or Free Of You were new Deadsoul Tribe songs as they fit in sound, style and even name of the song; differences may be found in Flies In Amber where there are growl(-like) vocals that come in a bit later in the song (which remind me of Nick Holmes in the Shades Of God album by Paradise Lost); it also differs as it develops to more than what DST usually does, though it may very well serve as a basis for what to expect. Unlike DST they don't write songs made in a somewhat strict mold; they break through it and add variations, experimentations and buildups and they infuse energy to counteract the slower parts; this dose of energy is very well in place, as it breaks the pace and adds interest.

The similarity to Pain Of Salvation may be (apart from the sound itself) in the way they structure their songs. I'm not expert on this, but the feeling I got from listening, is that they seem to follow or at least unconsciously build their tracks as POS did on their albums like Remedy Lane and The Perfect Element I.

An interesting song is Amphibian Halo which makes use of electronic effects and a pervasive sound and atmosphere; as if they're invading your mind while you listen. Another great track is the fantastic The Chameleon Defect, which has a great noisy part to it with a very high intensity dose that comes unexpected. The following is a good buildup and development of the former. This is exactly how I would like to hear the band go to. Combine their ability to create beautiful and inspired musical landscapes as Flies In Amber with their talent that made this track; this track alone is shows their skill and aptitude to form gorgeous tunes that not only mesmerize with their beauty but also stupefy with power.

All in all, there's quite a bit of variety in the sounds they create in the various songs here; though all share a basic grain, Dark Suns show they know how to grow each one of these grains in different ways, to achieve an interesting diversity and mix of songs. At first it may not be apparent, but close listening will reveal this.

Aside from what sounds to me like obvious influences, I have to say I enjoy this album a lot! It is very well done, well played and well composed in a sense that I enjoy how they build their songs and the way they develop them. They should try and distance themselves from those influences I mentioned, but not by turning to a different path; rather build away from it, to create their own route. Following what they do on The Chameleon Defect is a good start. I find this to be a powerful and interesting album. I recommend this to fans of Pain Of Salvation and Deadsoul Tribe and also to anyone who wants to hear a good slice of well done dark metal. This is an album I'll come back to often for more listens.

Review by sleeper
5 stars Dark Suns return with this, their third album, Grave Human Genuine and in doing so have given us an absolute gem. The shortest way to describe this album would be the beautiful melancholic atmosphere of Opeth's Blackwater Park mixed with the emotional impact of Pain of Salvations The Perfect Element Part 1, a combination that creates something very much all of their own. The reference to Pain of Salvation is particularly relevant to this album as the bass player is none other than Kristoffer Gildenlow, former bassist for Pain of Salvation.

The album opens with the short instrumental Stampede which serves to give a distinct hint as to what is to come. Stampede flows into what is arguably the albums finest track, Flies in Amber, a track that shows greatly how the band create their sonic style here on Grave Human Genuine, by using the guitars and keyboards (Thomas Bremer being particularly fond of the reproduced flute sound that adds greatly to the atmosphere) to to create a dark, melancholic and sometimes menacing atmosphere whilst using the bass and vocals of Nico Knappe, as well as the occasional guitar solo, to add the emotional impact that defines this album, though I'm not sure how Schmidt contributed additional rage to this song. The distinct quiet-to-loud build up that the band use is repeated, though most certainly not with any copy and paste repetition from Flies in Amber, through Thornchild and Rapid Eyes Moment using distinct compositional changes to avoid any chance of the songs sounding samey. Amphibian Halo is where they add a fair bit of experimentation with electronics, particularly with drum sounds and mixing them with acoustic drums in a similar way to King Crimson's more recent observations. The (relatively) lighter atmosphere here makes this an enjoyable listen. The Chameleon Defect takes the ethos of light-to-heavy to extremes by using a very mellow, light-hearted and jazzy melody which comes to an abrupt halt and blasts into a cacophonous wall of thrashing metal riffs and pounding drums, before doing the same in reverse and starting over again before dropping the mellow factor further and fading out the song. For the last two songs of the album, Dark Suns perform an impressive feat of maintaining the dark and melancholic atmosphere without being particularly heavy AND without it feeling like you've just changed album. Free of You uses a beautiful melody that builds in intensity without really getting much heavier until the end and Papillion uses a string quartet to dominate the opening of the song before the band kicks in and finishes the album with a flourish.

I've noticed that Papillion is recorded here as being 10:28s long, its not its 5:29s, but that extra time plus another 2:30 are used for the bonus track, 29. Now, I'm not normally a fan of bonus tracks as, with the exception of live tracks, they tend to be songs that deserved to be cut from the final take, demo's, mildly interesting or just plain bad covers, radio edits and in the case of live tracks, sometimes they are poorly recorded. 29 does not fall into any of those categories, in fact its one of those very rare animals, a bonus track of very high quality. In itself it actually feels slightly different to the rest of the album as its not metal at all, instead its a very nice smooth, jazzy number of a quality equal to that of the rest of the album, and most certainly doesn't stand out as being out of place. There are two final notes I'd like to make about this album before I finish, and they concern Kristoffer Gildenlow and drummer/vocalist Nico Knappe. Gildenlow makes a welcome return to the progressive metal world here, his first such album since Pain of Salvations BE, and in actual fact gives his best performance since Remedy Lane. His playing here is rather different to that he did for Pain of Salvation as he isn't supporting the intricate compositions of his brother, Daniel Gildenlow, but to a style that sacrifices intricacy for atmosphere. He adjust brilliantly and simply thrives in with the band, its a shame that he wont be a full time member (as far as I know). Knappe here has adjusted his vocal style to use far less of the growls that he did very well on the bands debut, Swanlike, even going as far as limiting them to a few lines on Flies in Amber, and instead gives a very delicate vocal delivery that proves that you don't always have to like the lyrics for them to be turned into poetry. This is not to belittle the other musicians on here, all of which gave excellent performances and lack nothing for skill, but I thought these two points needed mentioning.

From a band that started of as almost an Opeth clone, though an extremely good one, they have matured into their own identity here and fully deserve the 5 stars, in my top 3 albums of 2008 (so far).

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Germany based was initially a side project by Tobias Gommlich and Niko Knappe, musicians from local metal scene in Lutherstadt Wittenberg (Germany). It was formed a project called DARK SUNS. They started recording their material under Below Dark Illusion and finally released their first album Swanlike in 2002. As the band evolved, the gradually changed their music direction from progressive dark metla into something more progressive in style. In this "Gave Human Genuine", Kristoffer Gildenl÷w of Pain of Salvation fame joined the band.

"Stampede" (3:08) is an excellent experimental metal, composed in instrumental fashion. It contains heavy music using guitar riffs and powerful drumming. To me, this opning track is an adrenalin exploder. It combines the heavy side of Porcupine Tree and King Crimson nuance (post Discipline album). "Flies in Amber" (9:53) starts beautifully with sort of flute work combined by heavy (and rough) guitar work. The musical break using percussion is really great and it suddenly reminds me to Ozric Tentacle. The vocal enters the scene beautifully. I really like the ambience.oh's finally a great GROWLING vocal line that reminds me to Opeth. It's terrific, my friend!! I do like it!

Surprisingly "Thornchild" (7:11) starts beautifully with an acapella that reminds me to the opening vocal part of "Ladies of The Road" (King Crimson) with a vocal that bends Greg Lake and John Wetton voice. It then flows to wonderful heavy riffs augmented with keyboard sound at the back that reminds me to symphonic prog music. Another brilliant track coming out from this band.

"Rapid Eyes Moment" (7:21) starts off nicely with an ambient acoustic guitar fills, something that you might have not expected coming from a progressive metal band. This opening part proves that they are an experimental / post metal vein band. The bass guitar lines follow beautifully. The music moves up gradually through the entrance of drum in relatively slow tempo. It's a very nice opening, really! The vocal line enters beautifully backed by slow tempo music. The music flows nicely into the grandiose one, with heavy riffs and maintaining the keyboard sounds at the background. It moves up steadily until the track finishes beautifully!

The concluding track "Papillon" (10:28) starts nicely with long sustain keyboard work that accompanies the nice singing part. It enters the heavy riffs part at approx minute 2:35. The sound of keyboard at the background helps accentuate the atmospheric side of the music. The song also contains long break in silent and then followed by great vocal line backed by piano work. It's truly a non predictable music!


It's really an excellent addition to any progressive music collection. The key attractive point of this album is that you could not expect how the music would sound like after a particular song is complicated. Each track in this album has its own unique style - that's why it's called something like experimental and post metal in nature. The composition and performance are all excellent. The mixing is a bit "raw" but I believe that this was made intentionally by the band. 4.5 star rating. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by Negoba
4 stars Beauty in unexpected places.

This line is growled during the highlight track of the album, and it is an apt descriptor of this work. Ranging from unbelievable heaviness to floating melody, this indeed is an unexpected beauty.

When I first encountered Dark Suns as a recommended artist on internet radio, I had fairly low expectations. Opeth-lite with Tool thrown in was a common descriptor, but then I heard a longer selection on Franz Keylard's prog podcast, and I was impressed. In fact, I slowly bought up the tracks on iTunes until I now have the whole album and continue to recommend this as one of the better metal albums of the year 2008.

The standout track is Flies in Amber which starts with flute and a syncopated, complex-time riff and employs Nico Knappe's greatest helping of growls on the album. Present too are his childlike, unique clean vocals that really are Dark Suns signature element. These are featured most prominently on Thornchild which begins with an extended a capella section which includes lyrics Take your spoon now, just taste my spine. Crunch it slowly... I find the juxtaposition of the choir-boy tonality and the dark lyrics quite effective, and when the heavy section comes in, it makes perfect sense.

There are many standout moments on this album, including what may be the absolutely most heavy recorded moment of all time, during Chameleon Defect, which simultaneously employs blast beats, gothic choir, and plenty of heavy guitar which I can only describe as standing outside during a soft-ball size hail storm.

Not everything works so powerfully, however. The electronic drums of Amphibian Halo aren't bad, but distract from the overall feel of the album. Similarly, Papillon is an overlong mood-piece that has spoken word passages. Again, not bad, but certainly a step down in an album that has its share of brilliant moments.

It pains me that my 4 star rating will actually bring the average down for this album, for I find it better than quite a few albums rated higher, including Dark Suns previous album. And although I would rate it 4+ stars, it does not come up to masterpiece levels as an album (a few tracks may, however).

I do recommend this album without reservation. Again, one of the best metal albums of 2008.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars I found Dark Suns while checking out progressive metal bands on iTunes. I don't remember which of their albums I sampled first, but I later read that their first album sounded a lot like Opeth, their second began moving away from that, and their fourth I listened to a bit and found it very jazz-influenced. This one made the biggest impression on me and so I ordered a CD from Amazon.

My experience with progressive metal is still somewhat limited; however, at times I was reminded of Tool's "Aenema" because of the slow heavy bombast of guitar chords, bass, and drums. Dark Suns shy away from catchy riffs or speedy trash sequences. Instead they often use the louder instruments (electric guitar, bass, drums) for deafening blasts of doom-heavy sonic assaults. The opening instrumental in part sums up much of the heavier parts of the album.

What makes "Grave Human Genuine" so interesting, though, is everything else that Dark Suns employs to create the music. You'll find piano, flute, bongo drums, electronic effects, acoustic and clean electric guitars, strings, synthesizer, and possibly more that I have missed. The band uses all these to create delicate and beautiful acoustic music with drums and bass, symphonic metal, haunting and lonely musical passages, and music by which to go mad. They also don't hold back and fire full volley when it suits them. Listen to the wonderful acoustic guitar/piano/bass/drums opening to "The Chameleon Defect" which abruptly turns into an auditory bombardment at a rate that can hardly be counted in beats per second. Though the general atmosphere is dark and there are no catchy melodies to sing in your head, the music is very intelligent if not experimental.

A few words on the vocals, Nico Knappe's vocals tend to be sung very delicately and softly, which can work wonderfully to contrast the dark heavy side of the music. Sometimes though I wish he would put a little more edge into his voice. At times I think his style bothers me a bit but other times I am okay with it. There are also death growl vocals placed to good effect but I don't know who is providing them. Also, Vurtox of Disillusion guests on a couple of tracks for spoken parts. It's interesting that I ordered Disillusion's "Back to Times of Splendor" at the same time as Dark Suns, discovering them during the same iTunes hunt.

The album is both diverse and cohesive. The approach to the dark heavy music doesn't vary much but there's so much else on there that the album doesn't get tiresome. If you are looking for more standard metal then this one might not please, but for something in a progressive vein, I think this is rather original among the prog metal albums I have heard so far.

I don't feel it quite deserves five stars but a very strong four stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Truth be told, I had no previous experience with Dark Suns and really struggled to digest the material found on Grave Human Genuine. In fact, I was ready to sit down and completely rip this entire album apart for being self-indulgent and pretentious. However, over successive listens the intr ... (read more)

Report this review (#407477) | Posted by usa prog music | Thursday, February 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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