Darke Complex are a strange, strange band. Their kitchen sink approach to music can yield very satisfying results…but can also feel incredibly disjointed and frustrating…That same eclectic mix is also part of what makes Point Oblivion work…the patchwork tableau Darke Complex create is, for the most part, both fresh and refreshing.
Darke Complex‘s debut album Point Oblivion already has some fans of the band riled up even before its release. The band, formerly known as Widow, put out an eponymous EP last year that was all raw energy and manic aggression, pummeling the listener with frantic screams and riffs that combined nu-metal and metalcore, and they quickly built a very dedicated group of diehard fans. Point Oblivion eschews the -core suffix and highlights the nu- prefix, as well as throwing in a little bit of everything else they can think of.
Opener “Dead To Me” enters on a snaky, squealing guitar line (think an old dial-up modem playing “Paint It Black”) and a thick, head-banging nu-metal riff. The first big surprise is just how strong the clean vocals are: Widow was filled with unhinged screaming and thrashy riffs, but very little in the way of clean vocals. It’s not just that the vocals sound good, it’s that the melody is infectious, even when the chorus gives way to frantic rapping. The electronic outro stumbles a bit, but not enough to detract from the song. “Nothing Within” careens wildly between rapping and radio-friendly screams straight out of 2001, and culminates in a thick, paranoid chorus that is part Korn and part Finch. “One of Us” features a swirling synth straight out of the Muse playbook, and a chugging guitar riff that offsets it nicely. The vocals don’t break any new ground, but the melody is catchy and the band wisely repeat the main hook over and over. The rap vocals on “Abandoned” are a little flat, but the chorus is gigantic, complete with swelling strings and another simple, earworm melody.
“Detox” is slow but heavy, with a bass lead on the verses under rapped vocals and fuzzed out screams, leading into, you guessed it, ANOTHER catchy-as-the-plague chorus. The bridge is reminiscent of early Linkin Park, which is absolutely a compliment. “Marking Targets” throws a wrench in the gears by distilling everything down to minimal rap production and vocals. It’s a fair enough nod to some of the popular trap artists that are an obvious influence on the band, but it sounds so completely out of place that the album would be better without it. “Void” brings back the signature melodic hooks paired with a grungy nu-metal stomp, and the pairing of clean vocals and rap works better here than anywhere else on the album. “Memory Museum” is slower and somber, which is usually a bad sign mid-album, but Darke Complex make it work, in no small part due to the excellent chorus, and the bridge, which approaches Deftones territory.
“Wounds” is a grinding affair, equal parts creepy synths and growling riffs. The chorus hook isn’t quite as strong as most of the other songs here, but the verses make up the difference. “Cold Blooded” is another trap song, and lacks any of the charm Marking Targets had, resulting in what is easily the worst song on the record. “Out Of Options” relies heavily on rapped vocals, which aren’t enough to carry the song, and the riff kind of simmers in the background as well, making it another stoppable track. Closer “Erase” is a nice finale, albeit one so indebted to Linkin Park’s “Numb” that it sounds a little stale.
Darke Complex are a strange, strange band. Their kitchen sink approach to music can yield very satisfying results (“Dead To Me,” “One Of Us”), but can also feel incredibly disjointed and frustrating (“Cold Blooded,” most of the rap vocals on any given song). That same eclectic mix is also part of what makes Point Oblivion work; you’ve heard the pieces of this album before (probably 15 years ago), but the patchwork tableau Darke Complex create is, for the most part, both fresh and refreshing.