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Darkstar - Heart of Darkness CD (album) cover

HEART OF DARKNESS

Darkstar

 

Progressive Metal

3.34 | 10 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Heart Of Darkness" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US/German progressive metal act Darkstar. The album was released through Institute Of Art Records in 1999. Darkstar is a project initiated by Siggi Blasey (Sequencing, Sampling) from German progressive metal act End Amen and guitarist Dan Rock from US progressive metal act Psychotic Waltz. John McKenzie performs drums on the album and Danik Thomas plays the bass. "Heart Of Darkness" was recorded in late 1998. Partially in San Diego and partially in Frankfurt.

Stylistically the material on "Heart Of Darkness" continue down the same ambient/atmospheric progressive metal road as the material on the bandīs debut full-length studio album "Marching Into Oblivion (1995)". Only this time around there are some tracks on the album which feature vocals (both male and female). The album is dominated by instrumental tracks though. Epic sci-fi atmospheres, melodic guitar themes, huge synths and sequencing, and the occasional sample (thereīs for example a George Bush sample from the Gulf War on the opening track "Dark Paradise"). Although the instrumental tracks generally work better than the material featuring vocals, itīs not without itīs charm that Darkstar have opted to include vocals. To my ears "Flight To Nowhere" is THE highlight of the album though. A pretty amazing instrumental that builds towards a harmony guitar finale, which canīt help lead the listenerīs thoughts toward Psychotic Waltz in their prime.

While "Heart Of Darkness" is overall well produced and features a layered and detailed mix, it unfortunately suffers from exactly the same issue as itīs predecessor did. The drums and the bass simply arenīt that well sounding. The former doesnīt feature the most pleasant sounding tone and the latter is more or less buried in the layered mix. It doesnīt help that both the drums and the bass arenīt playing anything which add to the music either. They work solely as a solid rhythmic backdrop to the atmospheric keyboards and the melodic guitar themes. Itīs not a huge issue, but itīs not exactly a positive feature either.

Upon conclusion "Heart Of Darkness" is a relatively interesting sophomore release by Darkstar and while I donīt think it quite reaches the dark sci-fi majesty of itīs predecessor, itīs still more than worth a listen. Dan Rock is a phenomenal guitarist with a floating personal style and guitar tone, and his playing on this album is worth the price of admission alone, but the material is generally of a good quality too and despite a few issues with the sound production and the anonymous playing of the rhythm section a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

UMUR | 3/5 |

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