Album Review: Darko | Sea Of Trees EP

Darko Sea Of Trees CoverOur Verdict: 4/5
Release date: 8th of September
Find it at: Lockjaw Records
Find out more:

“Speed, skill, strength, songcraft, fierce shredding and mind-altering amounts of melody… ‘Sea Of Trees’ is an EP for those who like their music fast, aggressive and run through with massive melodic hooks.”

You’re an intelligent person with a creative mind and a healthy imagination, right?

Good. That’s great to hear.

Now use that imagination to picture an alluring alternative universe: one where Lemmy Kilmister grew up listening to a intoxicating infusion of The Gaslight Anthem, Rise Against, The Mars Volta and Iron Maiden – and then started a band.

You there yet? Yeah?

Now put on Darko’s new EP, Sea Of Trees, and tell me I’m wrong.

Holy bloody hardcore Batman, but this EP has everything. Speed, skill, strength, songcraft, fierce shredding and mind-altering amounts of melody. It’s a dynamic, shape-shifting beast, packing more wallop in to its 15 minute punch than most manage in their entire career.

But don’t take my word for it, check out the studio preview for final EP track “Seaward” below:

Huh? Huh? You with me yet? You damn well should be!

The other 12 minutes of auditory assault are as good and better, running the gamut of the sonic spectrum. They touch on melodic strains of punk, new wave Brit heavy metal, the angular and technical elements of math rock; almost like stripped back and punk-fueled contemporary – whisper it! – prog.

Witness track “Atlas to Atlantis”: the first minute is a thrilling punk thrash that segues into a heart-stopping guitar break the likes of which Smith, Gers and Murray would have been proud to have penned. Via some dynamic cross-fade capers we’re then treated to a tuneful tonic that verges on the pop end of punk, before returning to that thrilling squall with which the song began. It’s a very fine 3 minutes indeed.

“Timepieces and Lock Shaped Hearts” clambers up and over a solid wall of sweet-sounding riffage, before leaping with abandon and taking flight on the wings of a diamond sharp guitar solo. Frontman Dan Smith spits lyrics over it all, his belly clearly full of fire: “I once tore the world a new asshole / A reckless taunted soul / These are the songs I Screamed at the world / Does it all count for nothing?” Fortunately no, ‘cos to these ears this music counts for a lot.

It occurs that, ultimately, all of this may make it sound like Sea Of Trees is something of a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” affair. Far from it. It’s a coherent, visceral and cognitive clip round the ear; an EP for those who like their music fast, aggressive and run through with massive melodic hooks.

Watch this space. I’ve a feeling Darko are going to be big. Very, very big.

~ | ~

Darko Sea Of Trees CoverThe ‘Sea Of Trees’ EP tracklist is:

1. Prologue (A Voice Unheard)
2. Canthus Viewpoints
3. Atlas to Atlantis
4. Hanging Off a Memory
5. Timepieces and Lock Shaped Hearts
6. Seaward

Darko are:
Dan Smith – Vocals
Rob Piper – Guitar
Chris Brown – Guitar
Karl Sursham – Bass
Andy Borg – Drums

‘Sea Of Trees’ is out on the 8th of September via Lockjaw Records.

Album Reviews | Live Reviews | News | SBA Lists | The Playlist | Under The Skin | Without A Song

Live Review: Louise Distras, Shepherds Bush Empire, 27th July 2014


Once upon a time there was a girl called Louise. Louise lived in a town in Yorkshire and she was extremely passionate about her music. She practiced playing the guitar every hour of the day.

One day, when Louise was a teenager, her mother decided to teach her a lesson about the world; how harsh it could be, and how Louise needed to find something more constructive to do with her life. She took Louise’s guitar and, raising it above her head, smashed it into a million pieces.

Louise’s mother did teach her daughter a lesson that day, but little did she know that it wasn’t the one that she had intended…

Fast forward to the present day, and here is Louise Distras in all her zealous ectasy, standing tall in front of the 2,000 strong assembled throng at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. A feint and nervous introduction is not for her; as she steps toward the mic, she lets rip with a scream worthy of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” era Roger Daltrey, and soon all eyes are on the stage.

The blood, sweat and tears, born of years of graft and sheer determination, erupt as Distras throws herself full-force into “Stand Strong Together”, the opening track from her debut album Dreams From The Factory Floor. “They put us down in every way, it only makes us stronger every single day… Born original loyal and true, waging war on the chosen few.” On this form, the chosen few had better watch out, because it’s not a war that they are about to win.

20140727_200447-001As the song draws to a close, any thoughts that the audience may have had of talking or drinking through Distras’ set (some little 1970’s NYC band called Television appear to be the main draw of the night!) are vanquished, and a moment of stunned silence is followed very quickly with heartfelt and appreciative applause.

The raging fire of “No Mercy” follows, and you can almost feel Distras’ throat tearing itself apart as she screams “No mercy! Forgive me! Pray for me! Forgive me!” during the song’s coda. This time around the applause is noticeably louder, but Louise is only just warming up.

Next up is “Love Me The Way I Am.” The song’s message is one of self-care and self-belief; of coming to terms with yourself and who you are, and hoping that others will do the same. The lyric has an intimate and personal focus, as it tells the story of a friend of Distras’ who had attempted suicide before coming out. Fortunately the friend pulled through the darkest of times, and the song is just one powerful result of their survival.

Perhaps a surprise for some then comes sharply in to focus, as Louise recites the title track from her album, a prose poem that examines the power of dreams, and explores in detail an extraordinary and hard lesson learned. Already a moving moment on record, it resonantes beautifully at the Empire when, as Distras recites the line “They say that dreams never come true,” she lifts her eyes skyward, spreads her arms wide and motions to the room around her. The briefest of pauses to let it sink in, and then here’s the knockout punch: “Well I say that they do.”

It’s an impassioned and spiky blast through “People of The Abyss” and “Story Is Over”, before Louise is recalling in person that moment of wanton destruction on the part of her mum. Intended to stamp out the musical fire in Distras’ belly, as Louise stands strong and rightly proud on stage in London, it’s plain that it had quite the opposite effect. “I’ll show you. One day, I’ll show you.” And tonight, and on many other nights just like it, she has.

20140727_200453-001Another nod to a colourful past comes in “Shades Of Hate”, with it’s tales of Distras’ hometown of Wakefield and its infamous Westgate run, where “…the girls are in their Friday best and the men are wearing anger.” It has sections of the audience chanting the traditional refrain of God’s own county: “Yorkshire! Yorkshire! Yorkshire!” It’s not quite as poetic as Louise’s song, but it’ll do nicely, thank you very much.

Eventually, as they generally must, all good things come to an end; but what an end. Before her final song, Distras points in to the crowd and says “This song is for you. And you. And you.” With each “…you” Louise singles out the individual women in the audience, fixing them with her own eyes and an empowering sense of solidarity. “I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of being told how I should feel about myself; about my body. All so big corporations can sell us products to try and make us feel better about ourselves.” And then comes the vivid imagery of “The Hand You Hold.”

“Advertising man hammers nails into my head, crucifies these children before they’re born and bred.” Well bugger me if Distras isn’t helping to give every single one of them a fighting chance.

I’m telling you now folks, in these times of turmoil – of increasing social and civil unrest – the questing power of punk is alive and well, and its name is Louise Distras.


Louise Distras played:

“Stand Strong Together”
“No Mercy”
“Love Me the Way I Am”
“Dreams From The Factory Floor”
“People of The Abyss”
“Story Is Over”
“Shades of Hate”
“Black and Blue”
“The Hand You Hold”

Louise Distras Dreams From The Factory FloorDreams From The Factory Floor is out now and you can buy it from Louise’s official merch store, Amazon and Google Play.

Visit Louise Distras’ official website here. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

You can read Skin Back Alley’s 5/5 review of Dreams From The Factory Floor here.

Album Reviews | Live Reviews | News | SBA Lists | The Playlist | Under The Skin | Without A Song

EXCLUSIVE! Bi:Lingual stream “Subject Number” radio edit

Bi-Lingual Live Shot

Occasionally a new band comes along with a song that slaps you upside the head with it’s passion and urgency; it makes you want to shout about it from the nearest rooftop and demand that a record label throw a wedge at it in order to make sure it’s heard; it inspires thoughts of immediately embarking upon a fevered run through the streets, yelling in people’s ears to stop what they’re doing and get with the programme. “Why are you not listening to this song? Right now?!”

Bi:Lingual are one such band, and their debut single, “Subject Number” is one such song.

Let it speak for itself via our exclusive first stream of the song’s radio edit. Click below:

It’s perhaps easy and inevitable to talk about Rage Against The Machine at this point; early adopters of the band certainly seem to be doing so. But put those thoughts out of your mind. Bi:Lingual share their rap/rock DNA, but there we’ll call a halt. These guys are a beast all of their own.

Listen carefully to Dylan Teague’s flow. It’s lyrically sharp and delivered with pin-point accuracy; yet it lays waste with the eruptive fire of a Pompeii-scale paroxysm, particularly in that roar of a chorus. It seems to these ears, too, that the particularly British pronunciation draws more on the styles explored by the UK rap and hip-hop scenes; and in the way that they rip the global talent-show trend a new arsehole, the lyrics spun in the sphere of UK grime.

The instrumentation is equally unyielding in it’s blistering incalescence; a tempestuous assault on the senses with the burning sting of a box of pissed-off hornets. The rhythm section of Aaron Lythe on bass and Stephanos Louca on drums throw it down with funk and groove that, when bolted firmly to the hardcore guitar snarl of George Louca, is blistering and thrillingly bolshy.

And, bugger me, that guitar solo! Eye-popping? Yup! Mind-boggling? You bet. Matt Bellamy eat your motherf**king heart out. And you, Chris Wolstenholme!

At this point, I would apologise for the profanity. I’m not usually prone to it. But to my mind Bi:Lingual are that good that I need to make a point. Why don’t you make one too, and buy the bloody single.

– oOo –

The full version of “Subject Number” is available for pre-order now via Itunes

Find out more about the band at: Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and YouTube

Bi:Lingual are about to embark upon an extensive UK tour, playing:

23rd – The Showroom, Hartlepool
30th – The Fenton, Leeds

2nd – Carpe Diem, Leeds
4th – Subject Number Single Release
5th – The Keys, Middlesbrough (supporting DZ Deathrays)
9th – The Globe, Newcastle
14th – Roadhouse, Manchester
15th – Ryans Bar, Derby
26th – The Islington, London
30th – The Lomax, Liverpool (International Music Festival)

11th – Zombie Shack, Manchester

4th – The Crown, Middlesbrough (Guests at RISE Wrestling)

Album Reviews | Live Reviews | News | SBA Lists | The Playlist | Under The Skin | Without A Song

Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe pays tribute to Tommy Ramone

Randy Blythe Lamb of God Download 07

Randy Blythe, frontman with US metal band Lamb Of God, has paid tribute to Tommy Ramone following the drummer’s death from cancer last week.

The last surviving member of the original Ramones lineup, Tommy Ramone died from cancer at the age of 65.

Blythe hailed him as “helping to create the music that changed and saved my life.”

Writing a statement via his Instagram account, Blythe continued: “The importance of the Ramones in the history of underground music cannot be overstated — before the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Black Flag and way before any speed/thrash metal band, The Ramones were blowing minds with loud, fast, aggressive music.

“Although to the calloused ears of modern youth who have grown up listening to crust punk/grind core/speed and thrash metal/and even some of the more aggressive music on commercial radio, The Ramones might sound like fast pop, at the time they started playing out in New York City at CBGB/Max’s Kansas City (1974), they were something that had never ever been seen or heard before.

“The first time my band played CBGB, I was completely emotionally overwhelmed. ‘Man, the feeaking Ramones started out here!’ I thought as I stood on stage. I almost started crying. Without that band, the tempo of underground music would have never reached the speed that it has today. “No Ramones = no Lamb Of God, or any of the other music most fans of my band listen to.

“Rest in peace, bro.”

Album Reviews | Live Reviews | News | SBA Lists | The Playlist | Under The Skin | Without A Song