Archive for November, 2013

Dark Design – Prey For The Future – Album Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , on November 5, 2013 by novametalreview

One of the best things about going to a live show is discovering a good ‘new band’ on the bill, and this was exactly what happened during a trip down to Raleigh, NC, earlier this year with “Dark Design”. Primarily we headed down to drink a few beers with our good friend Tony “Dio” Leonard on his birthday and rock out to another favorite band of ours, the excellent Lexx Luthor, but had been forewarned not to miss Dark Design… I’m glad we didn’t.

I believe Dark Design have been around since 2010 and comprise Ray Lewis (guitar), Mike Joyner (guitar), brothers Matt (bass) and Robbie Mercer (drums), topped off by Andrew Bertrand on vocals. When we saw them earlier this year my immediate impression was a sort of hybrid prog/power-metal, dipped in a coating of thrash, and topped of with a splash of NWOBHM on the mold of Iron Maiden. In a live setting they delivered the kind of power metal that gets you head moving and left me intrigued. After the show I found out they were in the middle of working on their debut album under the guidance of John E. Wooten IV from another great band from NC – the mighty Widow – and a few weeks ago I received a copy of the finished article, “Prey For The Future”.

So, here it is, and a fine effort it is, though not without some question marks and things to look at next time around. First off, I really like the cover design, with an alien looking figure, set in a future-scape (see below). One thing I noticed is that the CD doesn’t appear to be registered in the Gracenote database, so loading the CD into iTunes for example doesn’t bring up the track listing, which is something the band should take care of perhaps? A small thing, but…

The album opens with a well executed acoustic piece that leads into “Dark Design” and immediately the drive of the whole album hits you, with a pounding double kick-drum fueled lead in, that blends to a harmony guitar melody that takes us to the verse and the semi-chanted vocal from Bertrand. I do like the fact that the bass guitar is nicely up in the mix and not lost, since the work here is worth hearing.

Next up with have “No Death” and swear the opening ‘twiddly guitar riff” is an Iron Maiden cast-off in the mold of Phantom Of The Opera or thereabouts. Once things get going though this becomes something of a fading memory (though it does reprise toward the end). I like this track as it twists its way along. No dull moments here.

Skipping over “Abiding Contempt” (a fine track), we get to “Welcome To You’re “Doom!” which opens with hints of Metallica to my ears. The lyrics to this song seem pretty pointed and I hope whoever this is aimed at got the message: “Oh, my doom-damned friend, what goes on in your head? Need to be, need to lie, just living legend in your own mind.”…

The rest of the CD powers ahead and keeps the riffage pounding along, so I won’t dissect the reminder, track by track, but it would be impossible to review this CD without pausing at the final track, which is a totally unexpected and I feel rather misplaced cover song of “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas. I’m afraid I just don’t seem to get it… why? Sure, it’s a brave move, and I’ll bet a good number of listeners have never heard the original, but in the context of what has gone before it feels like a track that should have been a free download single or given away with every T-shirt purchase. Don’t get me wrong, this is incredibly well executed, and live a killer, but when you close your debut album with a cover like this it is the overriding memory.

If there is a criticism (beyond the choice of last track), I’d say it relates to tightening everything up a tad here and there, especially when the more technically challenging time changes and melodic interplay is going on. It’s unfair to compare (but I will) – the latest Death Angel album has some intensely tight playing and a lot of the energy comes from this aspect being so spot on. It’s hard to put into words, but there is untapped potential related to this – at the moment there are times when some parts come across a bit like a very slightly out of focus photograph – something that could likely be easily fixed with more time in the studio I am certain and remembering this is a self-financed effort… but in the grand scheme of things this isn’t a big deal.

Overall, an enjoyable slice of power/prog metal and a worthy addition to any metal fans collection. I don’t think anyone is going to claim there is any new ground being broken here, but in many ways this is why it works – what you get is solid heavy metal, so if that’s your cup-of-tea you should go and buy a copy. My score a comfortable 7/10.

You can order the CD via the following link: