The Darkness return with ‘Easter is Cancelled’. It is their 6th overall album and third in just 4 years. I haven’t had much interest in the band since their debut ‘Permission to Land’ in 2003 and its follow-up ‘One Way Ticket to Hell…And Back’ in 2005. Yes, I listened their releases after that, but nothing has grabbed my attention as their first two releases. Well, that was until now.
The album harkens back to the early days of the band I enjoyed so much. The ingredients of which are a dash of the flamboyance of Glam Rock sprinkled with hints of 80’s Hair Bands and a splash of heavy metal all mixed together with a sense of humor that is purely tongue fully implanted in cheek.
The band opens with what I think is a contender for song of the year, “Rock And Roll Deserves to Die” It has a grand epic feel to it and Justin Hawkins delivers a commanding vocal performance. The falsettos he hits are high enough to shatter glasses and windows all over the world. It is both grandiose and bombastic as well as calm and serene. A journey worth taking.
“How Can I Lose Your Love” is the first of several ballads that would grace this release. This is more of a power ballad with great guitar riffs and solos from Justin. And if you want solos, “Live ‘Til I Die” delivers as well. Another solid rock track and as Justin has said, what is the point of doing a song if you can’t have a solo.
“Heart Explodes” is another beautiful ballad, but what sets this one apart is two things. The first of which is the humor as it is a ballad about how hard it is to write ballads…beautiful!! The second is the drumming of new drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor. You may know his dad…Queen’s Roger Taylor! Not a bad pedigree.
“Deck Chair” has this whole Queen vibe (and not because of Rufus). It is a slowed down tempo paying homage to a lost deck chair. He so misses that chair and doesn’t know where he can now rest his behind. Oh the horror and the sadness. It is almost too much. I feel for him.
The band cranks it up to 11 with the title track “Easter is Cancelled”. It is another over-the-top performance worthy of the Darkness. One of my favorite rocking tracks and the guitar work is nothing short of sensational. Some memorable riffs and a blistering solo.
And then back to the power ballad and this one is more humor and utter enjoyment. “Heavy Metal Lover” is about, well, his lover who happens to be a Heavy Metal fan. Hell, she is so metal she could rust and she is so happy and when she is cutting meat. Bloody brilliant. The time changes and style changes keep the song interesting and it is never a dull moment. “In Another Life” is another rocking power ballad and you know what, I don’t care. When the songs are this good, it doesn’t matter if it is another ballad type song.
Next up is the metal song “Choke On It”. It is heavy and very aggressive. The band displays their tougher side and yet keeps the humor that they are drenched in. The chorus ramps it up and squeezes its fingers around you neck.
Then the band ends the album with another homage. This one to that wonderful instrument of only 6 strings…the guitar. Without it, this band Justin would be nothing. “We Are the Guitar Men” is strange, it is extreme, it is amazingly stellar. The theatrics in their music and vocals makes it entertaining and ends the album on a high point. Who am I kidding, there was never a low point.
Rhythm guitarists and brother to Justin, Dan Hawkins, produced the album and he is the man behind the scenes that helped bring this album in to one cohesive, beautiful package. This could quite possibly be my favorite The Darkness album. I can’t say one bad thing about it other than it ended. Which means I will simply hit play again and start it over.
What do I love about it? Justins vocals, the guitar playing, the humor, the flamboyance, the theatrics, the songs, pretty much everything. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I simply adore it. If I have had a rough day at work, I turned this on in the car and life suddenly got better. Seriously!! It put a smile on my face and rocking beat to my heart! The track score is easily 100% for 10 out of 10 tracks are keepers. And I can only give this a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as anything less would be sacrilege and blasphemy. And I don’t care that the cover art is both of those things (or are they really the same thing??).