Germany’s finest Death Metal band, Dark Age, have flown under the wire. We salute these heroes with an introduction and subsequent review of all their studio albums to date. Currently on hiatus, their last two albums were released by AFM Records.
WHO ARE DARK AGE?
In 1994, Eike Freese (vocals/guitar), André Schumann (drums) and Oliver Fliegel (bass) formed a Death Metal band called Dyer’s Eve in Germany. One year later, the name was changed to Dark Age. The new name was inspired by a Vader songtitle, while their older one was inspired by a Metallica track. In autumn 1995, they recorded their first demo Doubtful Existence. In December 1995, keyboard player Martin Reichert joined and in January 1996 guitarist Finn Dierks was also added to the band. Oliver Fliegel left the band in 1996. After Finn Dierks moved to the U.S., he was replaced by Jörn Schubert.
In the summer 1998, Dark Age recorded their first album entitled, The Fall, which was released by Remedy Records. In 2000, they followed up with Insurrection and played at Wacken Open Air. In 2002, the album The Silent Republic was released.
In 2003, Dark Age released their demo songs collection EP called Remonstrations. They also re-recorded their first demo songs.
In 2004, their self-titled album Dark Age was recorded and released. In 2006, Thorsten Eggert left the band and Alex Henke joined. In 2008, the album Minus Exitus was released.
Their sixth full-length album Acedia was released in November 2009. Their seventh full-length album A Matter of Trust was released on 6 September 2013 through AFM Records.
On November 19, 2015, the band announced that they would go on an indefinite hiatus for many personal reasons. A damn shame, but I hope they will return sometime in the near future.
The Fall (1996) – 6/10
“Dry my tears, my blood, my wounds
Heal my soul, my life, my pain”
– “Dark Age“
At this point in time, Death Metal had been around for over a decade. This release wore its influences on its sleeve. However, infused with lots of melody inherited from In Flames or the Gothenberg Sound, the record is an impressive first stab at greatness.
Songs such as “Dark Age“, “The Awakening” and “Black Evergate” are technical, brutally beautiful and epic sounding. My only criticism would relate to the production, which sounds flat. The drum sound is pretty basic too, but the drumming is intense.
Key track: “Nightime Heroes”
Insurrection (2000) – 7/10
The sun is growing dark,
My god is down and empty
And he is suffering the same as me“
– Terror To The Masses
So, what is the natural progression for the band after such a solid start to their career? Take more of a Thrash Metal direction and add a good scoop of Slayer to the mix.
2000’s Insurrection is an immortal document of a band evolving and gaining its teeth in the musical maelstrom. The band is tighter, with more progression from The Fall‘s blunt trauma. The production is slicker, with guitar solos dotting the wax grooves. The neo-Classical scales of songs such as “Fearing Tomorrow” or “Eden Calling” are true things of beauty. This band was so talented at such an early age!
The highlight of the album, for me, is the goosebump groove of “Chaos Of The Gods“, with its choirs and power blast powder.
Key track: “Chaos Of The Gods“
The Silent Republic (2002) – 7/10
“Save our souls
This is a god damned nightmare
Where are the ones who show
that they do care?”
– Silent Republic
Whilst the sound on this 2002 release is more Gothic than previous recordings, the lyrical content is very much less nuanced than the first two records.
Leaving this aside, I absolutely adore the brilliance of “Know Me Strong“, with its melodic passages being a perfect counterpart to the Death Metal roars. This gave a very big hint at the direction the band would take.
Whilst the previous album was an improvement sonically, the drums on this record are too quiet and its does destract from the power. However, this is a minor gripe and the collection is strong and showed how their songwriting was maturing at a pace.
Key track: “Know Me Strong”
Remonstrations (2003) 7.5/10
“My soul awakes in a forest
dreaming in winter sheets
Shadows moving around me
My dream internally bleeds”
– The Soul Eclipse
The five song EP introduced an element of Folk/Power Metal. There are a couple of songs here that are tinged with the feel of fellow Germans Running Wild.
The production is slick and the keyboards are higher in the mix. Overall, it was to prove a key gateway in the band’s career. What a brilliant milestone moment.
Key track: “The Soul Eclipse”
Dark Age (2004) 8.5/10
“Politics shaped the organic statement
A lifeless planet as a final judgement”
The start of an exceptional run of albums came with the release of the self-titled record in 2004.
There is a feeling of rebirth about this collection, with the sound getting an upgrade with sharper drums and some amazing melodies in between the growling.
This record made me really tune into what Dark Age are all about. The adrenaline intoxication of tunes like “Dare To Collapse” and “Neokillers” stirs the blood and threatens the limits of its pressure. Don’t drive and listen to this album!
As a bonus, there is a Death Metal version of Ozzy‘s “Suicide Solution“, which is, um, interesting.
Key track: “My Own Darkness“
Minus Exitus (2008) – 8.5/10
“I am the darkest rising
A star that kissed the sky
Faithfully I consume your features
With an injected lies”
– Black September
The spectre of drug addiction, war and ethics haunt this release. This is a fine record that takes a deep look into the psyche of man and produces a treaty on all manner of disturbing matter.
There is a slight shift in the sonics here, with some Metalcore being added to the mix. There are also smatterings of Korn too. It follows a general trend at the time, but it still sounds like the Dark Age I love.
Key track: “The Dying Art Of Recreation“
Acedia (2009) 9/10
“I feel so isolated and disconnected from the happy”
– All The Unfulfilled
The sense of gothic lineage comes to the fore on this release. The Dark Age chaps take a walk down the same streets as the Sisters Of Mercy or The Cure and come up with a great gothic masterpiece.
The sense of melody is to the front and middle and back. Dark Age delivered an amazing uplifting album, even though it deals with some heavy duty issues. There are parts that wouldn’t be out of place on an R.E.M. release, but heavy songs also populate this record.
The album is a tour-de-force of majestic and varied metal. It would have been the crowning point of their career, were it not for the last release…
Key track: “Zeitgeist (Ghost In The Machine)”
A Matter Of Trust (2013) – 10/10
“I am lurking in daily routine
and dreaming my life ahead
deferring the goals in life
there is wisdom in the eye of tomorrow“
– Out Of Time
They left the best to last. This album shows Dark Age move from Death Metal to stylish Euro pop metal. This album has it all – hooks, melodies, guitars shredding and drums pounding.
The band had been influenced by some classic 80’s pop artists, such as a-Ha and it shows in the fabulous arrangements and tunefulness. I eat this up! Love the great tunes from Nero to Fight! to My Saviour. This is one of my favorite albums of all time and, should we never get another record from Dark Age, we can be content to have such an amazing back catalogue.
Key tune: My Saviour