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Experimental/Post Metal • Germany

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Dark Suns biography
In 1997 Tobias Gommlich and Niko Knappe, two well known players of the local metal scene in Lutherstadt Wittenberg (Germany) formed a project called DARK SUNS. At first it was planned as a side project but after some time the band began to spend more and more time on this project. In 1998 they recorded their first CD called "Below Dark Illusion". After numerous member changes (as well as tenancy changeover to Leipzig) and 1st places at newcomer festivals the band began to write their first album "Swanlike" in 2001.

The first album, which was finally released in 2002, contains music in the vein of OPETH. Death Metal combined with several other influences: PINK FLOYD like psychedelic passages, rhythm changes and acoustic parts. Everything with continious change of growls and clean vocals. The band used to call it 'progressive dark metal'. The second album "Existence", released in 2005, is quite different. The death metal influences are gone completely and the whole sound became much more progressive. For it is a concept album most of the songs are rather epic and very atmospherical. PAIN OF SALVATION and GREEN CARNATION besides PINK FLOYD and THE AMBER LIGHT are the main similarities I have in mind. Overall, "Existence" is the more progressive album and a concept piece with a goose bumps causing atmosphere.

The band initiated a great development and all we can do is to hope for more great albums. Perfect for fans of psychedelic, epic music and progressive metal aloof from DREAM THEATER.

: : : Martin Dietrich (diddy), GERMANY : : :

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Orange by Dark Suns (2012-01-31)Orange by Dark Suns (2012-01-31)
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DARK SUNS discography

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DARK SUNS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 29 ratings
3.92 | 78 ratings
3.89 | 75 ratings
Grave Human Genuine
3.70 | 57 ratings
3.88 | 59 ratings

DARK SUNS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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DARK SUNS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Below Dark Illusion


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Orange by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 57 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Lebmetalcom

4 stars The album is "playful" when it comes to track names, vocal styles, experimentation and weird music movements. Dark Suns have been going more into Rock since the album "Existence", which is one of the best albums released in its year and definitely one of the top Progressive albums of this decade alongside Ark's "Burn the Sun" , Pain Of Salvation's "The Perfect Element One and Dream Theater's "Scene from a Memory". It would be easy to say that Dark Suns stand alone as an independent band with their independent style, even though they still take a lot from the old Progressive British bands like "Gentle Giant" and "Van Der Graaf Generator". The most interesting part in most tracks is the high pitch vocal lines of "Niko Knappe / Maik Knapp / Torsten Wenzel" and the vintage style drum beats and guitar tuning alongside a mild distortion effect. A major track is "Not Enough Fingers", probably the most simple track ever recorded, but with a great mood and totally addictive.
 Orange by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 57 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Have you ever listened to an album that didn't impress you for the first few tracks and then suddenly it took off and blew you away? That's exactly the experience I had with Dark Suns' album Orange. Once this album got going, it really got going. Orange has a bit of pop rocky feel, but in a good way. There's lots of great vintage organ and the music is a bit quirky. In fact, the organ sound is absolutely fantastic and it's incorporation is beautiful. In terms of style, there's a ton of diversity on this record. There's slower pieces like "Not Enough Fingers" which had really good atmosphere, laid back grooves and a very strong mood that the guitars conjure up. Other songs, like Ghost have subtle shifts between ultra-aggressive organ driven rock and evocative jazz tinged sections. There are some very frantic pieces on this album as well, like "That is Why They All Hate You In Hell" with high energy rhythm and screaming falsetto vocals. Pieces like "Vespertine" have great dissonant chords, jazzy elements, and wild sax solos. "Scaleman" is simply a great track, and the closer "Anti Pole" does a great job at melding post rock, avant-rock, and prog. My guess is one of two things is going to happen with you. Either you're going to love this album from minute one until the end, or you'll be bored with the first 4 tracks but then rest of it will not you off your feet so hard that you buy it anyways for its sheer brilliance. This is a killer album and a good buy no matter how you look at it.
 Grave Human Genuine by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 75 ratings

Grave Human Genuine
Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Orange by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 57 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With a name like Dark Suns, you'd think the music would be, I don't know, dark? At least a little bit dark? While I've heard this album is a change of pace from their older stuff, "Orange" is generally upbeat and eclectic to the core. I get the post metal label, though, because they really do utilize metal (and rock) elements to create a different sort of style and atmosphere.

The problem is that there isn't very much enjoyment in that style. The music is generally organ- driven with many atmospheric interludes and some psychedelia. The music can be fast and furious, but it can also be very pensive. I appreciate all that, but I feel that there is a focus on style over strong composition here. On top of that, all the tracks sound very similar, as there is much variety in each track. However, most of the tracks follow this same blueprint!

Overall, this is good music, but not much else. The track "Antipole" is phenomenal with its pensive ambiance and soaring climaxes, but that is the only track about which I can say this. The rest of the album is just good. That's it.

 Orange by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 57 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Orange' - Dark Suns (7/10)

Germany's Dark Suns are a band that are nothing, if not ambitiously eclectic. Although I would feel secure recommending them to a fan of adventurous metal or prog rock, it will be difficult to nail down their sound in just a few words. Regardless, over the past decade, the band has released a slew of adventurous but progressively less fierce recordings, and their fourth work Orange does not show a sign of sweat. Infusing a cross-section of modern sounds with vintage progressive rock, Dark Suns' distinctive style is made memorable by the band's charm and excellence.

Although there are flashes of the band's prior heaviness throughout Orange, many listeners may find themselves debating if it should be considered 'metal' at all. True enough, Dark Suns is more of a haven for proggers, but when was that ever a bad thing? With the quirk- fuelled opener 'Toy', the first thing that jumps out are the rich vintage organs. The guitars are beefy, yet not quite distorted, and while the band's penchant for time signature-bending and jazzy flourishes could have had me wondering if they knew what decade they were playing in, the music on Orange is consciously aware of what has happened in prog since the 'good old days'. Similar to the art-laden eclecticism of Pain of Salvation, Dark Suns' music often switch between the laid back, and energetic sides of their palette.

Although Dark Suns are drawing upon plenty of vintage sounds- including Beatles-era psychedelia- Orange is made modern by a fresh batch of modern styles. Although the influence of metal is made clear in the dark atmosphere and crunchy guitar riffs, post-rock is the most modern trend on Orange. This is not to say that Dark Suns perform strictly 'post- rock' passages, but rather that the ambiance and attention to cinematic build-up is worked in with the rest of the sound. Jazz works in much the same way; weaving in and out through the use of freak-out saxophones and inventive chord smithing. In a sense, Dark Suns brings the classic prog sound to the present in much the same way that modern legends Porcupine Tree do; by taking the template and ornamenting it with more recent innovations. Although the music is instrumentally complex and challenging, the diversity and tongue-in- cheek energy makes for a consistently engaging experience. An impressive amalgam of prog rock styles, old and new.

 Orange by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 57 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. Like OPETH and PAIN OF SALVATION the DARK SUNS have changed their style to more of a seventies organ driven brand of Prog. In each case I wish they had all stayed doing what they were doing but I get that bands sometimes need to change it up. It just seems weird that all three of these bands would do so around the same time period. Man i'm a huge fan of DARK SUNS "Existence" record and their followup "Grave Human Genuine" which I didn't like as much but still feel it's a solid 4 stars. Back then there was no doubt a bit of PAIN OF SALVATION hero worship going on but it worked for these Germans.

I have to say i've listened to this record much longer than I normally would before a review but after feeling it was very average after the first few listens I could tell it was growing on me. Sadly I still feel a lot of the material here is simply good while some is excellent. 3.5 stars for me is the right rating.

"Toy" hits the ground running with lots of upfront organ. Not exactly my favourite style of music here. Vocals just before a minute as it settles back. Contrasts will continue though. I like the guest horns on this album which include trumpet and sax. An okay tune. "Eight Quiet Minutes" is better and the vocals are fairly theatrical here although they are contrasted with higher pitched mellower vocals. Once again the organ does become prominant. "Elephant" sounds like a lost DISCIPLINE tune. Just not as good though making it one of the average songs on here for me. The vocals are really hit and miss for me on this record. "Diamond" has some energy but it settles back when the vocals arrive. Lots of piano on this one but the organ is more dominant during the second half. "Not Enough Fingers" is an instrumental that i quite enjoy as we get the same repetitive guitar melodies throughout with a beat and atmosphere.

"Ghost" opens heavily with lots of organ flooding the soundscape. Vocals a minute in as it settles down. This is good. "That Is Why They All hate You In Hell" is not. The vocals are high pitched and screaming in a very annoying way. They do stop thankfully but they will be back. The vocals make this a tough one to enjoy. "Vespertine" opens with atmosphere as the guitar and piano come and go in a reserved manner. It picks up with vocals after a minute. A change before 2 1/2 minutes as the sax comes in and it turns heavier. Man this is good, then this catchy vocal led section takes over after 3 minutes, backing vocals join in as well. An interesting song for sure. "Scaleman" is an energetic instrumental early on then it calms down with vocals but it builds. This is one of the best tracks for me. "Antipole" is the over 14 minute closer. Another winner in my opinion. I much prefer the vocals on the chorus than on the versus. A calm from before 3 1/2 minutes then it starts to pick up after 5 minutes until they are kicking it hard with horns. Nice.

Way too hit and miss for me to give this 4 stars.

 Grave Human Genuine by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 75 ratings

Grave Human Genuine
Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by usa prog music

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 intricacies of this release began to reveal themselves. In doing so, I developed a greater appreciation for what Dark Suns were offering: a very intimate, complex listen with atmospheric soundscapes and plenty of emotion.

On Grave Human Genuine, Dark Suns plays a form of dark, progressive metal with a sprinkling of doom and death metal elements thrown into the mix. In terms of their overall sound, Dark Suns seems to Frankenstein parts of Porcupine Tree, Opeth, and Pain of Salvation. Given the quality of those bands, it should come as no surprise that Dark Suns has plenty of talent to make an excellent slab of progressive music.

While this is definitely a progressive release, it is not the typical example of the genre. Grave Human Genuine is unique in that it features almost no double peddling, almost no soloing, and really no over-the-top musicianship. Instead, Dark Suns presents very intricate music crafted through careful and thoughtful compositions. The entire album uses a variety of percussion instruments, which includes bongo, congas, and djembe; a rich bass sound (courtesy of ex-Pain of Salvation bassist Kristoffer Glidenlow); and a chamber quartet to give the music a very warm, organic sound. This is only enhanced by the flawless production.

Those readers looking for something to tide them over until the next Dream Theater or Symphony X release might as well move along. However, those readers looking for something different and challenging should pay close attention.

The instrumental "Stampede" opens up the album and melts sweetly into "Flies in Amber", the strongest and most dynamic track on the album. Primarily utilizing a haunting flute and variety of percussion instruments, "Flies in Amber" weaves soft, gentle passages with vicious death metal vocals and majestic doom moments resulting in an awe-inspiring track. Songs like "Thornchild" and "Rapid Eye Moment" showcase everything Dark Suns is about: great ambience, wonderful pacing, complex arrangements, and fantastic vocals. The instrumental, "The Chameleon Defect", allows Dark Suns to lay down some thick groove as it features the band at its most bombastic. Though, it is Dark Suns' skillful use of tempo, dynamics, and ambience that really allows this album to succeed.

Unfortunately, Grave Human Genuine is not without its faults, as a few moments off the second half of the album take away from its cohesiveness. "Amphibian Halo" presents the first misstep with its use of some ambient electronic noises. These noises stray too far from the warm, natural atmosphere created by the album's first half and sound out of place to this reviewer's ears. Also, "Free of You" contains passages that are too bright and happy and disrupt the somber feeling that dominates the album.

So what's the verdict?

Without a doubt, Dark Suns is a band to keep an eye on as they have the talent and the ambition to drop a monster of a progressive metal album. While Grave Human Genuine has some disappointments, it is an intriguing listen and great album overall.

Standout Tracks "Flies in Amber" "Thornchild" "Rapid Eye Moment"

 Existence by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.92 | 78 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sleeper
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Dark Suns first album was a clear Opeth clone and for this band to gain any real recognition they would need to develop a style of their own. This is something they have taken to heart because in th two years between Swanlike and Existence there has been a complete change in direction for their music.

The biggest change is that they have added a second major influence to the bands sound, that of Pain of Salvaton, and worked hard to merge that with the existing influece of Opeth. The result is an album that has the bleak, dark, melencholic atmospheres of Opeth mixed with the emotional delivery and content of Pain of Salvation, or at least that is the clear aim on here. The reality is that they seem to have just fallen short of attaining that perfect blend. The atmosphere is there and so is the amotion but neither mix to a fully compelling degree and as a result is that the album can be seen more as work in progress, a snapshot of where the band is developing from and too. I think the biggest reason for this is that the musical ideas on show here just seem to be stretched too far, motifs go one for too long and the impact that the band wanted is severly lessoned because of it .

Overall this isnt actually a bad album, there is plenty here to interest fans of progressive metal and there are numerous flashes of brilliance throughout the album, but there is also a case of too much music, not enough material as well that just drags down the experience of listening to it. Hilights for me are the extremely catchy The Euphoric Sense, a song that I can never seem to shake from my memory, and the perfectly executed You, A Phantome Still and Patterns of Oblivion. These last two songs are perfect examples of exactly what the band was trying to achieve here, an exquiset mix of atmosphere and emotion where the one feeds of the other. Unfortunatly there are a few lowlights to the album as well. Many of the shorter, earlier songs just feel unecessary to me and tracks 8 and 9 (Gently Bleeding and Abiding Space) are good but arent as fully realised as the aformenioned You, A Phantome Still and Patterns of Oblivion. The final track is the big let down though, the longest song on here but it really shouldnt have been, it distinctly needs to be cut down by about 4 minutes because it vastly outstays its welcome.

A decent album, and one that shows a band developing into being something different, but fails to meet the full expectations set upon it. No one song on here can be pinpointed as terrible for they all have moments of greatness, but only a few hold that throughout their length. In the end though, it would be the next album, Grave Human Genuine, that fully realises this bands potential. 3.5 stars.

 Existence by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.92 | 78 ratings

Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Entirely proficient and occasionally exciting brooding metal limited in its effectiveness by a lack of originality and flourishes which so punctuate bands which they are likely to be compared to.

Existence is, taken as a whole, a fairly typical release of the genre, but has some good things going for it. The atmosphere is dark, but not oppressive, and the songwriting fairly complex despite the somewhat laid-back tempo of many of the songs. Musicianship is about what one would demand of the genre-- which means proficient and aggressive playing, as well as highs and lows which is all but essential these days. Knappe's vocals are clean and smooth, with thoughtful phrasing and delivery.

So what's the problem?

There isn't anything here you can't hear somewhere else better; moreover, the repetitiveness of the band's playing here will probably make the listener numb by the half-way mark... not to mention by the end of this album's 78 minute length! There are no flashes of guitar virtuosity, complexity in rhythm or time changes, or demonstration of range in the vocals. The end effect is a bland palette of crunchy chugging and atmospherics which don't make much of an impact.

Still, for fans of bands like Pain of Salvation, Riverside, Anathema, etc., Existence does offer some interesting and familiar sounds-- just don't expect them to match what you might find here. There is definantly potential for excellence here, if Dark Suns can find their own voice.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

 Grave Human Genuine by DARK SUNS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 75 ratings

Grave Human Genuine
Dark Suns Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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