Doomriders - Darkness Come Alive (Cover Artwork)


Darkness Come Alive (2009)


I didn't care too much for the first Doomriders record, Black Thunder. It seemed that the band had a very defined path they wanted to take, but in indulging these specific ideas, the whole ended up slightly less than satisfying. I wouldn't say I didn't like it -- it was moreso just OK. The band seemed to be going for a nostalgic mix of early Black Sabbath and '80s skate thrash with a healthy dose of guitar harmonies and droning repetition of barreling riffs underneath Nate Newton's masculine scream similar to his work in Old Man Gloom.

On Darkness Come Alive, the ingredients haven't changed much, but with more time to work with them, Doomriders have created a final product that is accessible and insanely catchy -- so far, the surprise of the year for me. The riffs are more focused, the lyrics more attention-grabbing, and there is a clearly enhanced focus on effective arrangements. There are moments that are so catchy, such as the hook on the awesome title track, that really should qualify for radio play.

Improving on their previous attempt, the only major stylistic change from the first record is a whole lot more sung vocals. Usually when heavy bands start adding more singing, it can be awkward and, frankly, not that good. However, Newton's singing vocals are performed perfectly, sounding like a mix between Danzig and Dave Grohl. Lyrically, he often stays within the dark and dreary topics you would expect with titles like "Heavy Lies the Crown," "Rotter" and "Crooked Path." However, on "Lions," a slow, droning number, he gives some advice: "Don't let these fuckers grind you down. Don't let these leaches suck your dry. You've got the heart of a lion. You've got the strength to survive. Time is their punishment -- they'll eat each other alive." Thanks man, I needed that.

Kurt Ballou's production gives this record a nicely raw but accessible sound, with a slightly retro vibe. The guitars actually sound like what a guitar sounds like in a room, not some studio-polished, over-compressed distortion hammer. However, in steering clear of a lot of studio trickery, the sound also manages to avoid sounding too lo-fi, coming off as pleasing and real.

Fans of the last Torche record Meanderthal, Queens of the Stone Age and anything involving Glenn Danzig should jump on this right away. Darkness Come Alive is heavy and unrelenting but is also a highly accessible and enjoyable listen from a band that has delivered on their potential.