Sunday, February 3, 2013


Never heard of Absolon? I hadn’t either but through the Christian Metal Realm I followed a couple of threads there and discovered that former Malachia/Vision vocalist Ken Pike was involved. Curiosity got the best of me and requested a copy of their debut CD ‘Darkness Rising – The Tale of Derek Blackheart.’ Ken had mentioned there had been some comparisons to Kamelot so I was even more intrigued.

Absolon self described this way, “Absolon… is a Symphonic/Goth Power Metal outfit. Influenced by old school metal bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Queensryche; and the newer Power Metal bands like Kamelot, Epica and Nightwish. Absolon has brought together a blend of metal that will please old school/European metal heads and Symphonic/Goth metal fans. We just call it Epic Metal.”

Darkness Rising: The Tale of Derek Blackheart is a well thought out and extremely well produced independent metal album. The songwriting is top notch and the performances are exceptional. Honestly I wasn’t sure if this album was gonna grab me or not, this is a concept album make no bones about it. To my delight the melodies here are soaring with plenty of superb guitar work courtesy of Ed Dumas. Grab is not the term to be used here, hook in is!

Concept albums don’t often lend themselves to the simple verse chorus verse chorus formula and this album is no different. Yet the melodies are hypnotic, Ken Pike never sounded better. Yes there are moments where his tonality reminds you of Queensryche but pay it never mind, that is how he sounds.

Songs like Pretender and Nail in the Head is almost hypnotic, strong European power metal with driving rhythms and explosive lead work. Contrast that with songs like Even Heroes Fall a bit of whimsy that exceeds in nuance and dynamics all the while moving the story of one Derek Blackheart’s fall into a pit of despair. Wonderful keyboard styling’s that expand the sound and add layers of depth which enhances the overall mood and feel of this release, but don’t worry the crunch of the guitar is definitely the driving force.

The lyrics tell the story of one Derek Blackheart, a kid who dreams of nothing more than being a heavy metal legend. The fable speaks of his ascendency and the emptiness that he realizes once he reaches the peak of his profession. This story ends badly but not without a lot of introspection and questioning of the meaning of things. Based on the classic story A Portrait of Dorian Gray with a modern interpretation, Absolon have scored a knockout.

You won’t find ten songs of Jesus saves; as a matter of fact you won’t find any direct mention of the Alpha and Omega. However His presence is there by his absence, there are several slight allusions that scream out to me as I read the enclosed lyrics. Without a doubt this is a cautionary tale, “What is it worth to have fame and fortune only to lose your soul; Derek Blackheart.” This is art that can be enjoyed by anyone, much like a Christian painter who paints landscapes. Similarly it reminds me of the old Rez Band tune Tears in The Rain from their Hostage album.

Darkness Rising: The Tale of Derek Blackheart is a melodic bit of heavy metal whimsy that is lyrically original and musically superior. Absolon have arrived in a big way. Fans of the aforementioned bands should really enjoy this; I know I am which is why I’m swinging 8 axes at this album.

You can check out their website at

8 axes
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