Germany's Dark Suns are back after a three year absence with their latest collection of dark progressive metal titled Grave Human Genuine, also their debut for the Sensory label. Mainstay Niko Knappe (vocals/drums), along with guitarists Maik Knappe & Torsten Wenzel, and keyboard player Thomas Bremer, are joined by session bassist Kristoffer Gildenlow (ex-Pain of Salvation) on this one, eight tracks that mix somber progressive metal with more straight ahead prog and ambient textures.
The first two tracks here start things off in grand fashion, the Opeth, Riverside, and Pain of Salvation influences easily apparent. "Stampede" is a heavy yet highly layered instrumental that leads right in to the crushing "Flies In Amber", a song that blends dreamy prog rock with bombastic death metal, Knappe's vocals providing the emotional clean passages while guest singer Andy Schmidt the death metal growls. Truly in line with the classic Opeth sound, the band also throws in some of the more groove laden and proggy elements of Pain of Salvation here, making this near 10-minute song an instant classic of dramatic progressive metal. On "Thornchild", the band lets loose their emotional and melodic progressive rock leanings, supported by Rush styled guitar riffs and plenty of symphonic keyboards. Knappe's drum fills are quite good here, and his vocals filled with passion and longing. Look for some especially nasty guitar licks from Maik mid-way through this piece, as he brings the rest of the band into a rather dirty groove that ventures into almost techno/trance territory towards the song's conclusion.
At this point, the CD takes a more quieter and prog rock approach, leaving many of the metal elements behind. Gildenlow's sinewy bass lines permeate the lush, keyboard driven "Rapid Eyes Moment", and those ambient/electronic/techno sounds pop up again on the spooky "Amphibian Halo", a song that should appeal to Porcupine Tree fans. "The Chameleon Defect" is a wonderful instrumental that sees lush Mellotron soundscapes doing battle with crushing black metal styled blast beats (yes, you need to hear this to believe it!), and "Free of You" is a lush prog rock number complete with layers of vocals, acoustic guitars, and keyboards, that wouldn't sound out of place on an early 80's album from IQ, Pallas, or Marillion. The CD ends with the epic "Papillion" which mixes heavy progressive rock with classical elements, and provides a fitting end to this very diverse album.
In summary, Grave Human Genuine overall is a very enjoyable work, but I think the best is yet to come from this band. It would have been nice for the band to continue on with the intensity of the first three tracks here, and for me the growls on "Flies in Amber" really mix in well with their somber take on progressive metal. Perhaps we will hear more of that in the future from them? Time will tell, but in the meantime, this is highly recommended stuff for all you dark progressive rock and metal fans out there.
- Flies in Amber
- Rapid Eyes Moment
- Amphibian Halo
- The Chameleon Defect
- Free of You