Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Album: Flogging Molly - Speed of Darkness

As I mentioned on this past week's Video, I don't know how I missed the release of Speed of Darkness. Hell, I didn't even know it was recorded and being released! I love Flogging Molly, and so the usual level of excitement that creeps up as I hear updates of a new album, over the months prior, finally culminating with me getting my hands on the actual music itself... never happened. I've had to jam all of that raw emotion, lust, and excitement into one short week; I am exhausted. But the excitement is carrying me on, onto this 2011 release from one of my favorite bands - and also one of the few modern bands that I've listened too for almost a decade, I realized this week.

The album opens with the title track which hits you like a bang, a true Flogging Molly experience. Ten seconds (after the intro) and I knew exactly what I was getting into - and I love it! This sounds like a vintage track from the group, something that could have been released within any previous album of their fourteen-year-plus recording career and not seem out of place. This is a great beginning, because you never know if a new release by a band you love will live up to the expectations that you have. Will the new album be the same style, and with that, too much of the same, or not enough of a change? With this opener, I am less worried.

...Which makes this next paragraph a bit awkward, as the second track, "Revolution," does not meet with the aforementioned expectations. The song comes off too much in the punk category, and not enough in the folk aspect. In my review of the latest from Dropkick Murphys, I made mention of their particular style following this punk-over-folk theme. So, "Revolution" sounds like Dropkick Murphys, which in itself isn't a bad thing, but I want to hear Flogging Molly dammit!

"The Heart of the Sea," the following song, is a return to the Flogging Molly sound and feel, although this time in their slower, story-telling style. It's a little more bluesy, a little more jazzy, a little more retro-rock... which is great. It's the added diversity that every one of their albums need and gets (usually).

The rest of this release works through these three styles fairly consistently for the following nine tracks. The melding of all of this is best summed up in the song "Don't Shut 'Em Down" (of which the video this week was) in where the song begins a bit more punk, eventually evolving into a more folk-friendly sound, and being strong in the story. It's a good song and a decent video, so I'd suggest checking it out, and if you like it, then odds are you'd like the album as a whole.

Speed of Darkness as a whole is pretty damn fantastic! It's not - at least initially - as good as Float was, but this release is by far much more varied. They decided to push the envelope and try mixing in some different sounds, and I commend them for it. There are up-songs, sad/down-songs, and everything in between. My view on weak songs are few; "Revolution," "So Sail On" (just too slow and dark sounding), and "Saints & Sinners" (just too dull compared to the rest). Obviously the great by far outweigh the average, and there is nothing ever bad on any Flogging Molly album, so I'm overwhelmingly for this latest chapter of the group's history.

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