Darko

Bonsai Mammoth

Written by: PP on 27/05/2017 13:35:17

Well, hello there, A Wilhelm Scream. The debut album "Bonsai Mammoth" by Guildford, UK hardcore punks Darko sounds like they took my advice to the letter, when I suggested the band ought to pursue melodically tinged hardcore punk instead of technical skate punk in a review of their 2014 EP "Sea Of Trees". The record namely has more than just a couple of moments where the band is virtually indistinguishable from the punk/melodic hardcore greats (see: "Dead Hordes", for instance), but fortunately, it sounds more like a tribute rather than a straight up clone. Besides, there are only two AWS albums in the last decade so why not let others explore the style as well.

"Bonsai Mammoth" is essentially eleven tracks' worth of awe-inspiring fretwork delivered at a ridiculous tempo, coupled with coarse, throaty vocals that balance a razor-thin line between gravelly melodies and hardcore style yells. Aside from the brief 35-second interlude "The Chernobyl Effect", the listener is given absolutely no room to breathe as the band race up and down their frets in riffs that seem more and more ridiculously complicated from each other. Technical wizardry is an understatement here. It could become too much if the band had forgotten about songwriting, but tracks like "Hiraeth" and "I Knew I Should Have Taken That Left Turn At..." suggest otherwise. Here, the band combines the catchy aggression of A Wilhelm Scream with a raw production that leaves the clean guitars just dirty enough to leave them with a nice flavor, and the coarse vocals with plenty of edges, yet just enough melody to reel us melodic punkers in. The result is some fantastic technical punk songs that arguably compete with the royalty in this genre, the likes of No Trigger, After The Fall, and Belvedere (although they are of course more skate punk, stylistically speaking).

There are a couple of missteps (read: anonymous cuts) but these are in the minority. Most of the tracks manage to perfectly balance catchy melodies with an aggressive tempo and ultra technical riffs to avoid a messy sound. Instead, the sheer intricacy of literally every riff on the record is a bewildering listen, and coupled with some fantastic vocal melodies on select tracks, ultimately a mouth-watering reminder of what makes bands like A Wilhelm Scream so great in the first place. A great debut that should catapult Darko to the forefront of the European punk rock scene.

Download: Dead Hordes, Hiraeth, Just A Short Line, I Knew I Should Have Taken That Left Turn At..., Lifeblood
For the fans of: A Wilhelm Scream, No Trigger, Belvedere, After The Fall
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.02.2017
Lockjack Records / Bird Attack Records

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