Credits - Drums, Production and Mixing

Sonic Cathedral Review

Written by Eastcoaster   

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A common trend in metal music this year is the concept album and Darkyra Black's Dragon Tears is no exception. For her first album Darkyra Black provides the listener with a wide range of Metal Genres with some rock and Far Eastern flavor thrown in. Add in heavy guitar riffs, bass, a driving drum beat, heavy and light keyboard chords, soaring; sometimes operatic vocals and you have a pretty good idea of this album. A pleasant surprise with this album is its concept which is and I quote: “A Gothic interpretation of a geisha like tale that ends in tragedy.” This geisha tale includes “love, loss, lust betrayal, and revenge.”

The evolution of the band, Darkyra Black, is quite interesting with its international flavor. Darkrya herself comes from Freemantle, Australia. While in Athens, she met with George Boussounis, owner of Online Recording Masters. George was instrumental in providing the contacts that would eventually become the Darkrya Black Team. He introduced Darkyra to Garry King, drummer, who performed with Jeff Beck, Joe Lynn Turner, and Ian Parry. He was also working on his own power metal project, Achillea (Greece). Soon after, additional members of Achillea joined the Darkyra team. They are: Paul Jupe on guitar, Fab Jablonski on keyboards and bass player Betovani Dinelli. In September, 2013, Colin Haynes (Canada) joined the team as a bassist. This allowed Betovani to switch to guitar along with Paul on some of the songs. Additional guest instrumentalist also perform on different songs and I will mention more about them later in the review. They also enhance the quality of this album with their musicianship.

From the opening song to the last one, the listener is taken on a roller coaster ride with instrumental, vocal, and emotional twists. Darkyra's shows her vocal training and abilities whether it's soft and melancholy, hard rock, or symphonic metal. The newness of her voice comes out in some of the songs especially her use of vocal vibrato. Once again, the quality of the music writing and the intertwining of the vocal and instrumental parts are very good. It is easy to see why some are comparing Darkyra Black to some of the already established mainstream groups like Nightwish and Within Temptation. With more experience, with writing and performing, it is likely that Darkyra Black will indeed rise up to the top tier of metal bands.

The opening track, “Madoka's Lament” sets the stage with the introduction of the geisha character and the beginning of the tale. It begins with a spoken part introducing the character over a simple keyboard (piano) broken chord pattern. Darkyra's vocal part comes in with a melancholy twist and a simple drum beat joins in addition to the multiple keyboard broken chord parts. An added part has Darkyra providing backup parts for a duet sound. In the middle we hear a heavy metal guitar part added and when Darkyra comes in for the second verse the guitar part becomes straight chords and the whole instrumental part builds until the simple keyboard part returns. The chorus lyrics include:

Don't forget, 
Always somewhere, 
Someone is fighting for you. 
As long as you remember her, 
You are not alone.

George Boussounis also provides the arranging and additional keyboards in this song. String parts are provided by the following guest musicians: Michael Porfyris, cello; Ilias Sdoukos, viola; and Laertis Kokolanis, violin.

Obviously all the songs are important to the concept of this album in order to allow the tale to progress. So the tale continues with “Lullaby of Death” which features a neat drum opening and a slight Eastern sound before settling into a traditional rock pattern. “Eyes Wide Shut” continues the rock theme with heavy rock chords after the keyboard opening and then Darkyra's mournful vocals adding to the sadness of the song. Also, contributions to the song are provided by George, the string trio, and a nice acoustic guitar part is played by Dimitras Barbagalas.

After a clocklike metronome opening that continues throughout the song, “Japanese Frankenstein” is worth noting as it describes the helplessness of a lady who is being objectified for the gratification of an owner/master. This song is definitely Symphonic Metal in its texture. The vocal and instrumental parts complement each other very nicely and the song ends the same way that it begins with the clocklike part. An example of the helplessness is shown in the chorus which is:

Wishing each day the nightmare to fade, 
I'm caught within the arms of 
Japanese Frankenstein. 
Each day the nightmare remains, 
I pray the winds of change 
blow me somewhere safe.

“Slither” perhaps has the most unique combination of music genres within one song. After starting with a haunting vocal part, we have a true pentatonic Far Eastern sound before for being hit with staccato heavy guitar chords. The battle then begins between the heavy guitar chords and the string trio. This gives way to arpeggiated keyboard chords intertwined with the clocklike beginning of “Japanese Frankenstein.” The lyrics, especially the chorus, are quite biting as shown:

You….slither away 
with nothing to say, a smirk on your face. 
You….slither away 
with nothing to say, a snake on the prey.

The song nicely ends with the string trio, supported by drums, playing the melody with a keyboard part mixed in.

A little further in the journey we come to my favorite song of the album, “Cold Cold Stone.” This song is very close to a rock anthem, especially the end. After opening with synthesized strings, the drums and keyboard add a rock-like part that keeps repeating before the guitar comes in with heavy chords. Darkyra shows in the vocal part, her wide range, intertwined with a nice guitar riff. When the chorus arrives, we get the full effect of a rock song. This includes the driving guitar chords, the backbeat drumming, and the driving bass. The chorus is a great example of the instrumental and vocal parts working the best together. Paul treats the listener with some excellent guitar riffs and solos right before the anthem part of the song at the end. Darkyra shows the power of her voice at the end as she competes with the band, which provides the backup vocals in the response part. The chorus lyrics:

Cold cold stone. I close my eyes, 
I close my eyes, I drift away. 
Only memories of love filled days. 
Cold cold stone. I close my eyes, 
I close my eyes. I'm filled with pain 
On this cold winter day.

The song “Never Know,” the longest one time wise, features most of the guest artists including George, the string trio, and Dimitris on acoustic guitar. Colin provides the bass part while Betovani treats us to some nice guitar solos. This brings us to “Tears by Candleight,” which was released before the album as a digital single and it is also the shortest song in length. In addition the band made a video of this song. This song has a Symphonic Metal flavor to it with the driving guitar part and staccato drumming. The bass part, once again, is play by Colin.

“Kiss of the Dragon” portrays the vengeance that the geisha acts upon her owner/master. This song has the most cinematic feel to it. You can almost visualize the action happening before your eyes as the lyrics paint the picture. After opening with a keyboard part that is nicely played, a short spoken part, the drums and guitars blast their way into the song. Guest guitarist, Thiago Trinsi (Seraphim), from Iceland shows his mastery throughout this song. The solo drums, the guitar solos and riffs, the vocals, all push the listener to the point in the final act, the killing by the geisha. Thiago, through his solos, provides aurally the anguish of the geisha in a masterful way. Interesting chorus lyrics are:

Blood stains the sheets 
his blood is spilled by my hand. 
Red the colour of death, 
The shade of revenge. 
Blood stains the sheets 
his blood runs red where I stand. 
Death finally sealed with a dragon's kiss.

The song, “Dragon Tears,” also the title of the album, provides the ending of the tale. Here the geisha looks back at the consequences of her actions. The song brings the Symphonic Metal taste once again with the heavy punctuated guitar part. The drums are more prominent in this song than the other songs. Darkyra gives us the madness portrayed lyrically through her vocals. Her voice is very strong and mixes well with the instrumental parts. Added to all of this is a nice interlude with nicely done short guitar solos. The chorus lyrics play an important part as shown:

I stand alone here in rain and winter wind. 
Can't wash away my pain, 
can't wash away my sin. 
The little cry I still hear. 
Love and life lost for little gain. 
Vengeance no comfort 
for a woman insane.

The last track, “Dragon Tears Story,” available only on the album, gives us the complete geisha tale mostly through spoken word. The instrumental track which opens and provided under the spoken words is nicely done.

Dragon Tears is an album that has much potential and it is nicely done for the first one. The idea of a conceptual album adds rather than detracts from the album. The musicians show throughout Dragon Tears that they have a mastery of their instruments and are able to play a variety of music genres. Darkyra Black also treats us to her wide vocal range and abilities and that she will be a vocal force in the future. The album shows a wide range of different metal genres and the mix of instrumental and vocal parts mesh quite nicely. I look forward to seeing and hearing what future albums by Darkyra Black may bring. More information concerning the band Darkyra Black may be found at the following links:

8.5 / 10