By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
Artists have a natural urge to want to create what they truly want, but it seems often that the pressure to conform gets to them, forcing them to keep within the confines of the genre they’re expected to stay in. However, there are artists that fight that mentality, refusing to be pigeonholed. Those artists are the gamechangers who set the bar for the rest in a swamp of aspiring musicians. Houston-based band Darke Complex is doing just that with their debut album, “Point Oblivion.” The quartet has broken the mold with these 12 tracks. Seamlessly blending an array of genres not always conventionally conveyed in the realm of heavy music, the group proves their creative genius has no limitations.
Formerly known as Widow, the group changed their name to Darke Complex and released their first EP in early 2015, entitled “Widow.” They quickly became known for their blisteringly heavy guitars, shrill screams and innovative, yet sparing, use of rap and electronic beats. On “Point Oblivion,” the band has retained elements of what brought them attention with “Widow,” but have refined their sound and tightened their song-writing abilities. All employing pseudonyms, the four-piece ensemble has emphasized countless new aspects, which they touched upon with the first EP. Lead vocalist Vincent Void has utilized his lush singing voice throughout the entirety of the record – which was confined to only a handful of moments on “Widow”– and now uses his signature screams to accentuate certain parts of songs. Guitarist Okage, along with his fiery fretwork, uses his rapping skills to his advantage throughout the album. For the first time, bassist Moth Tracy has revealed that rapping is also his forte, spitting countless verses and weaving lines with Okage on various tracks. The backbone to the album relies on drummer Lynden Rook, who provides ingenious beats and unpredictable, yet fluid, rhythms on every song.
The eerie guitar lead and pounding syncopation that kicks off album opener “Dead to Me” carries throughout the choruses as Void and Tracy proclaim their detachment to negative relationships. “Nothing Within” is unlike anything ever conceived in a studio. Transcending from heavy metal to house production in seconds, Okage and Tracy go back and forth rapping in the verses, divided up by Void’s gritting screams, then exploding into a chorus worthy of Octane Radio airplay. “I can’t find myself because there’s nothing within,” Void cries out over an onslaught of shifting instrumentation.
“One of Us” features the bright, upbeat keyboard arpeggios of K-pop with the snarling blitz of metalcore. “Abandoned” starts off with a guitar and synth line drenched in melancholy, and Void pours emotion into the verses, complimented by Okage’s smooth flow. Tracy’s intensity and Void’s falsetto in the bridge creates a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere, as Rook pounds away at his kit. “Detox” breathes new life into the “nu-metal” aura. Its crunchy riffs and drums are reminiscent of the likes of Slipknot and Korn, but the ending breakdown chant is groovier than most.
Breaking into new territory are tracks “Cold Blooded” and “Marking Targets,” which will undoubtedly appease die-hard rap fans. Over daunting synthy ambience, Okage, Tracy and even Void take turns showcasing their vehement vocabulary. Tracy’s confident ending “chorus” and verse on the latter, in particular, is bone chilling.
Tracks like the melodic guitar and synth pad-filled “Memory Museum” and piano-laced “Wounds” highlight Void’s impressive vocal range even further, with one of the largest vocal hooks on the album. “Out Of Options” brings a concoction of aggresivly rapped and screamed verses and a soaring chorus melody. Closer “Erased” draws their early 2000s influences and invokes Meteora-era Linkin Park vibes. The awe-striking combination of Okage’s low rapping and Void’s timbre mirrors the legendary duo of Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda. Doubled with strings and a prolific, Asian-esque synth melody, it’s a beautiful conclusion to the album.
“Point Oblivion” is truly a game-changer in the realm of music. Stepping out of their comfort zone, the band has successfully taken aspects and influence from various points on the music spectrum. Irate metal riffs meet modern-day electronic production. Raw, passionate screams meet expressive rapping and originative singing. These four 20-somethings from Texas have put every ounce of soul, emotion and creative drive into this album, and have produced something genuinely unlike anything that’s ever been done before. Darke Complex is a wake-up call to the music world, and are destined for nothing short of stardom.