Surrey’s Darko are a rare breed of band. When it comes to metal, you get bands who are blindingly skilful at their instruments but seem averse to putting any accessible elements into their music and are completely chorus-shy. You also get bands who can bring out an epic chorus with the best of them but have to stick to their Neanderthal drop-D riffs and run for cover at the mere mention of a guitar solo. Darko are a rare breed because they marry these two styles together; you get incredibly feats of musicianship coupled with super catchy choruses. This should be a world-beater, and yet…
Sea of Trees begins with an intro track, which always strikes fear into this reviewer. The EP should be a short sharp shock of a manifesto and few bands can get away with beginning anything with what is essentially filler. Darko’s ‘Prologue’ acts as a 30-second statement of intent, but what it truly amounts to is an intro and a verse which – given the time and development – could have turned into a killer song.
There is plenty to like on Sea of Trees. All of the songs display a dizzyingly high level of technical ability and musicianship with guitar figures that recall Architects, or even early Funeral For A Friend – the choruses are huge, and the production is slick and professional so you can hear everything clearly in the mix. The vocal attack is also impressive and when they allow themselves to switch gear into a more mathy, prog-styled instrumental section, as on ‘Canthus Viewpoints’, they prove that there are some pretty interesting ideas going on here.
The problem is that there is little if any variation on show here. Darko have proven they can do technical punk-metal but essentially Sea of Trees is a prologue and five songs which are more or less identical in terms of structure, length, tempo and style. If Darko want to go on to bigger things, they are going to have to learn some new tricks.
2 out of 5 high fives!