Monday, August 12, 2013

Dark Design-Prey For The Future

Heaven and Hell Records

Raleigh, NC-based Dark Design was first established in 2008. The band, which features a pair of brothers in Matt (bass) and Robbie Mercer (drums), plays progressive thrash metal the likes of which the heavy metal community hasn't heard since the mid-late eighties/early nineties. In fact, lead vocalist Andrew Bertrand (who formerly played drums in ShadowRealm and Blackwatch) has the same kind of vocals that made early progressive/technical thrash so appealing to begin with. True, he does have a bit of James Hetfield in him, which does match some of this album's "...And Justice for All" era Metallica moments (there are also some flashes of "Ride The Lightning" era Metallica going on with this full-length debut and that is down right sweet!), but on the whole he handles things rather nicely. The band is rounded out by a pair of  exceptionally-talented guitarists in Ray Lewis (who, previous to Dark Design, actually had played with the Mercer brothers in other bands such as Hidden Terror, Nocturnal Fear (the NC-based one) and Ascendency) and Mike Joyner. Now, other then a 2010, 2-song demo with the title "Dark Design-2010"*, this is it for the band (recording-wise) so they make the most of this golden opportunity present to them. Other then perhaps the over-use of samples (as song openings) this 9-track album is a fantastic listening experience. It opens with the beautiful instrumental "In Medias Res" and closes with a surprising effective cover (more on that at the tale end of this review). Overall, on the cleverly-titled "Prey For The Future", the 5-guys in Dark Design offer up some solid progressive/technical thrash which brings to mind not only some of Metallica's past (and much better over-all) moments of glory, but everyone from Savatage to Anacrusis! While I do mention the Metallica vibe it should be noted that it's only a passing resemblance to Hetfield and company as these Raleigh thrashers lean more towards the Anacrusis and  Toxik side of thrash then anything else. The promo also makes mention of some of Death's more technical moments and I'm certainly not going to argue that comparison. Take and add in small doses of Megadeth and the "lighter" moments of both Atheist and Cynic and you're closing in on what makes Dark Design so freaking appealing. And speaking of all things appealing, and things that hit you from so far out of left field that you can't help but smile in appreciation, the album closes things of with a cover of  "Dust in the Wind"! As I had not been keeping track of each individual number (at least on my first of several repeat listens to this fun album) it took me by total surprise when the all-too-familiar opening cords of this Kansas classic kicked in! While it's not the first time I've heard a metalized version of this number (especially as I'm fairly certain that some Christian hard rock/heavy metal band covered it) it's probably the best cover version I've ever heard!  It's a bit of an odd choice of covers I'll admit, but seeing as I love the original version so much (and yes, I do butcher it while singing it in the shower oftentimes!) it's a cool way to finish off this album. Kudos to Dark Design for coloring outside the lines as it were and for what is most-definitely a killer debut album. Find out more below.
* The Metal Archives mentions a 3-track advance promo that was self-pressed by Dark Design and handed out since the summer of 2012. But, since I can't verify that myself I'll just mention it in passing.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hello Andy,
I'm managing the act Norselaw whose ep "Moonhunters" last year received rave reviews. The new cd "Serpent in the Circling Sea" has just been completed and the band would be honored if you'd review it. Please peruse for a link to sound samples, reviews, and further information. If intrigued please give me a mailing address and I'll send copy of some of the greatest metal ever written.Regards, -Magnus


10:16 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

I just sent you my mailing address at the gmail account link. Let me know if you get it then. And yes, I'd be more then happy to give it a listen if you send it my way.

Andy Davis

10:35 AM  

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