Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Darker Days Ahead (2012)

Tragedy Records

For a band that cloaks itself in mystery, Tragedy's fourth LP, Darker Days Ahead, is surprisingly straight forward. Still, while the LP doesn't mess too much with Tragedy's unique, metallic, crust punk, it does exhibit why the band has managed to stand heads above most of their ilk.

Darker Days Ahead is Tragedy's first LP in six years, and since their previous release, they've maintained an extremely low profile, without a website, Facebook, MySpace or Angelfire site, and have done just a few, barely announced tours. It would seem the band likes its work to speak for itself.

Such a stratagem is understandable. While a great deal of crust punk can be rote with cliché refrains and have bludgeoningly direct lyrics, Darker Days Ahead features the band painting portraits that can be applied to any manner of tangible or intangible concepts. Of course, being crust punk, the band tells tales of apocalyptic wastelands, economies falling and basically general misery. But, wisely, instead of pinpointing the lyrics to a particular time and place, the words are vague enough to be place din nearly any time period, from the middle ages through 2055 (the year the robots won), but nuanced enough to paint vivid imagery, even if such apocalyptic imagery may be interpreted wildly differently by listeners. [Everybody knows the robot holocaust is in 2033 - editor]

Musically, the band descends even deeper into the murk since Nerve Damage. Guitars are downtuned. Vocalist Todd Burdette growls more like an angry beast than a human, leaving his lyrics indecipherable, but at the same time, intelligible in emotion. Noticeably, while earlier Tragedy works would sometimes rev up the energy, hurling forward at a hardcore attack, for the most part Darker Days Ahead is so low, so heavy, and so sludgy, that at times it feels almost more like early death metal than crust punk. Of course, the band likely doesn't worry about if the are "punk" or not, but it seems that they have shrouded themselves in such a massive sound, they are heavy metal without even intending it.

While the band has amplified their heaviest aspect, there is little here that is surprising. While the songs are mostly low and heavy, they could likely have been inserted into other Tragedy releases without raising an eyebrow. Instead of pushing forward, the band has focused on their heaviest parts and collected them all together. It's not necessarily new, but it works well, and gives the feeling of an impending atmosphere getting heavier and heavier and heavier and darker and darker and darker.