Wednesday, June 08, 2011

NWOBHM Wednesday-Dark Heart

Andy says-

In the past few years of collecting anything and everything out of the NWOBHM era I must have passed this album by a dozen plus times. I don't know if that is the original album art or not on Metal Mind's re-release (I suspect it is) but seeing as the lady on the cover always reminded me of Meg Foster (above) and the band's name was on the AOR side of things I put it aside. It wasn't until later on (reading Mark's excellent review of it back in late 2009) that I took it seriously. First time I heard Dark Heart though I expected a Diamond Head sound and was a bit let down. Mark is right that the band does draw from Diamond Head on more than one occasion ( "Turn Of The Tide" being on track that seems to "borrow" from Diamond Head's "Helpless") but they are nowhere near as original. Diamond Head were wizards on the guitar with amazing cord progressions. Dark Heart on the other hand suffered from a simplistic metal style that was all too common in bands from 1982-1983. Problem was this came out in late 1984 when the times..well, they were changing. My guess is any overly slick band like this wasn't tough enough for the emerging heavier shade of metal. I suppose all of this makes it sound as if I don't care for Dark Heart. Actually it is the opposite. I had a download of this and went out and bought the re-release from Metal Mind just to have it on actual CD. While the songs might not have been as flashy as those of Diamond Head the band had hooks. Huge hooks in fact. Even while the guitar tone lacks punch on this, their sole release the album flat out rocks. I'd argue Dark Heart did have a bit of AOR on their mind as they wrote some of these tracks (which by the way are leftover Tokyo Rose riffs at least on some). For a heavy metal act there was some rock and roll running through their veins. Lead singer Phil Brown does try to pull off the role of showman on numbers like "Shadows Of The Night" and "Don't Break The Circle" but there was problem number two for the band. His vocals (while not rough) are not up to par with what the flashier music was trying to achieve. It didn't surprise me to find out he went the thrash route with Holosade. He seems more fitted to heavier music. With all of that though Dark Heart still found time to craft this one album that while nothing original is still an essential part of the NWOBHM picture. These were the types of bands and the types of albums that made this moment in history so meaningful. Listening to the album you know these guys dreamed about having that one shot and they took it. Maybe convention wisdom would have said this style or this sound was out of date by then but the band rocked it and loved it. That much comes through when you listen and that makes it a must have for those who like their metal with heart.

Metal Mark says-

I'd never heard of this band until Metal Mind was kind enough to re-issue it a couple of years ago, but I was interested enough to check it out then. The cover drew me in at first and then when I found out they were a NWOBHM band I knew that I needed to check it out. I was glad it did get a re-issue because it's a solid effort. Like Andy said it's a little behind the times for 1984. It's much more rooted in an earlier and more basic NWOBHM sound. That's probably a large part of the reason why it didn't sell a little better because by 1984 the early days of thrash were upon us and this older style just wasn't cutting it for younger fans as much as it had a few years earlier. The sound is rather subtle for metal of the time. Even though there are some similarities to early Diamond Head, Dark Heart are still more laid back in their approach. Don't expect to be steamrolled by this band. Instead they are just very smooth and steady on stand out tracks like "Don't break the circle", "Coming Home" and the title track.
The vocals fit the music and for me the guitar solos are all rather impressive. I listen to this album fairly often. It's a shame the band didn't do a follow up because it may have been interesting to see which direction they decided to take on a sophomore effort. As it is there are still plenty of people who have probably not heard this one who should check it out.

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