Beware of Darkness - Orthodox (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
LOS Angeles based indie rock band Beware of Darkness unleash their ambitious new album, Orthodox, and impress for the most part.
The new power-trio is made up of songwriter and guitarist Kyle Nicolaides, drummer Tony Cupito and bass general Daniel Curcio were weaned on a heady blend of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin while growing up.
The album, Orthodox, was recorded entirely in two weeks at the Sound Factory and Valley Recorder in Hollywood, and aims to deliver the most fun you will have listening to a meditation on loss, girls, mothers and the implications of all three on the rest of us.
Divided into four categories – Ignorance, Loss, Depression and Enlightenment – it’s the type of LP that runs through a wide range of emotions, while embodying classic rock sounds from everyone from Zeppelin to The Rolling Stones right up to Jet and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Primal Scream.
Admittedly, moods and attitudes may differ towards it depending on which section you’re in. For while the opening songs that form Ignorance are hard rocking, some of the more heart-broken numbers carry that same sense of despondence with them.
Highlights include album opener Howl, which lays down classic guitar riffs and a hard rocking style, that is emphatically carried on by the uproariously good Sweet Girl (complete with Keith Richards-style riffs) and bloshy lyrics such as “I wish I was a surgeon so I could rip your heart right open and find the spot which broke me”.
Ghost Town, meanwhile, kicks off from a classy violin opening to a brooding blues-rocker par excellence that charts Black Rebel Motorcycle Club territory, complete with moody lyrics such as “angels they die above me… hmmm, I feel my end is coming now”.
Thereafter, the album slips away from that harder rocking opening into more vulnerable territory. Amen Amen has a touching sincerity about it as Nicolaides sings “if you believe in me, I can achieve anything” (albeit couched in a melancholy sense of impending loss), while All Who Remain lamens “when you leave this life the world will be a darker place for all who remain”.
Both songs showcase a more tender side to the band that’s equally as endearing as their more robust inclinations, while the latter also drops in a great guitar solo.
Just occasionally, however, their desire to continually surprise while exploring wide-reaching, challenging emotions doesn’t work quite so well. Heart Attack is ragged and all over the place at times, while the livewire pianos and bang-crash wallop of End of the World doesn’t sit quite as comfortably as a complete listen as their finest moments despite a fine finale.
Better, are the likes of Morning Tea, which again taps into ballad territory and owes more than a passing resemblance to Lennon and The Beatles, or the engaging optimism of mid-tempo final offering Hummingbird, during which lessons appear to have been learned and the album ends on a note of positivity.
There’s a folk-blues-rock vibe to My Planet Is Dead that’s good, too, which could be an updated classic Stones number, while Salvation Is Here contains the epic scope and sweep of a stadium-filling Coldplay or Muse number at times (especially in the way that it successfully mixes tempos and piano and guitar arrangements, as well as vocal range).
Put together, this is an absorbing listen that in conveying a range of emotions, succeeds in putting the listener through them too. It’s no small tribute to say that it’s as intelligent as it is, by turns, hard rocking, enjoyable, intimate and mournful with only the occasional mis-step.
Download picks: Howl, Sweet Girl, Ghost Town, Amen Amen, All Who Remain, Morning Tea, Hummingbird