Dark Avenue is a five-piece outfit from Dallas/Fort Worth that formed in 2014 and started out as something of a fun side writing project for three members of Pistol Whipping Ike that soon developed into something more serious when they realised they had something tangible. It seems typical local audiences tended to prefer either rock or metal, but Dark Avenue’s crossover style soon began to catch on as the band played live shows with Pop Evil, Queensrÿche, Red Sun Rising, Bobaflex and 36 Crazyfists, and the band initiated a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund their initial ‘Seasons Change’ EP recording. It was this title track from the EP that led to a development deal and garnered interest for the band from further afield.
After the release of the EP, Dark Avenue went on to release their debut album, ‘Illusions’ on 16th January, 2016. Says vocalist Mario Cadena, “I want people to leave listening to the album like they were right there with us; feeling what we were feeling, seeing what we were seeing, as if they were part of it”. As DTFM have been blessed with both Dark Avenue’s EP and album to review, we thought we’d combine the two into one article, starting with the ‘Seasons Change’ EP…
Title track opener ‘Seasons Change’ begins with a heavy, crunchy riff before the rhythm section add a throbbing beat and Mario Cadena’s melodious vocals glide over the top, rather like the glorious icing atop a delicious cake. I can see why this track got the attention of the development company and audiences alike; it’s certainly got mine! Next track ‘In Memory Of Me’ has that lethal combination of a pounding drum beat and pulsating bass which made not banging my head along an impossibility. The twin guitars of Andrew Lewthwaite and Barry Lorderbaum are perfection on this track, which I had on repeat numerous times, I just couldn’t stop listening!
I have no doubt that ‘Another Day’ would go down really well live; it’s hard-hitting and I can envisage the crowd really bouncing to it. Penultimate track ‘Sober’ has booming drums and a great hook. Lyrically, it feels introspective and is a great example of the fine songwriting ability of the band, which has been prevalent throughout this EP. Closer ‘Aftermath’ shows off the heavy rhythm section duo of Alan Sauls on bass and Jeff Hathcock on drums to their finest, the riffs are heavy too, and there is great use of echo and distortion on the angsty vocals. The whole feel of the track is quite industrial, and it feels like a great way to bring the EP to a close.
This EP clearly shows that Dark Avenue have successfully bridged the sometimes difficult gap between rock and metal, bringing aspects of both, whilst appealing to fans of both markets. The five tracks are really impressive for a first offering, particularly for a band that was originally started as a spare time jam session project! These are all great tracks and they’re the ideal introduction to the band prior to buying the album.
The ‘Illusions’ album gets under way with the spoken word “Illusions” repeated several times. After listening several times via the tiny speakers in my laptop and phone, I sat down and listened with headphones on, to find the spoken words alternate in each ear which sounded pretty cool! Although the track listing initially looks mightily long at sixteen, there are musical and spoken interludes, like the opener, interspersed between songs, bringing it down to a more manageable number. First song ‘No Answers’ takes no prisoners from the outset and it’s immediately clear how much the band have evolved since the EP was recorded. What immediately strikes me is how polished Cadena’s voice sounds, and I thought it sounded good before. The band sounds like a future stadium filler to me.
‘Outside’ has been used on several US televised MMA events and it’s not hard to see why. From the lyrics, to the way the verses build in intensity, the rousing choruses with those powerhouse vocals and astounding riffs, I don’t even watch the sport but this song has got me excited! ‘Forget You’ is one of those tracks that has you singing along by the second chorus, it has a phenomenal hook, it felt like it sank its powerful teeth into me and hung on for dear life.
‘Maybe Tomorrow’ has an intense riff, which combined with the thunderous drumming and fuzzy bass lines is outstanding by itself, let alone when you add in the rhythm guitar and those vocals; it really takes you for a ride. It’s apparently a crowd favourite and I can certainly see why!
‘God Made You Man’ has one of those choruses that is so simple but really gets inside your brain, it’s so infectious. The band are clearly accomplished musicians and sound like an incredibly tight unit. ‘Last to Know’ has a frenetic pace with choppy guitars and is another ear worm. Although it’s quite frantic, it’s also really tuneful, the lead and rhythm guitars are particularly fantastic on this track. The furious pace continues with ‘Wasted’, which starts with an insane riff that continues throughout. The rhythm section take up a punishing beat and the vocals take things to a whole other level. I love this track! ‘Someday’ (of which ‘Una Vez Mas’ is the Spanish version) explodes into life, making a huge, heavy impact before tailing off slightly as the vocals come in, bringing more light to the song. This is a track full of hard and heavy moments interspersed with lighter ones, and it’s impressive.
‘Illusions’ is an album packed to the brim with melodious songs that bridge the rock/metal divide and provide a bit of something for everyone. The interludes have obviously been really well thought out and they really work as a concept. Each time I listen to this album, the more I change my mind about which tracks are my favourite. For a debut album, this is phenomenal. I’m really looking forward to seeing what these guys come up with next!
‘Seasons Change’ EP track listing:-
In Memory of Me
Buy it here:-
‘Illusions’ album track listing:-
Everything is an Illusion
Una Vez Mas
God Made You Man
Last to Know
Illusions (Ring of Fire) [feat. Becky & Dayvoh Odum]
Outside (Radio Edit - Clean)
Buy the album here:-
Mario Cadena - Vocals
Barry Lorberbaum - Guitar
Andrew Lewthwaite - Guitar
Alan Sauls - Bass
Jeff Hathcock - Drums
Find out more about the band here:-
Watch the video for new single ‘Don’t Hold on’ here:-
Buy the single here: http://hyperurl.co/dontholdon