16th September 2016 via Bright Antenna
After the deafening roar emitted by Beware of Darkness’ 2013 debut album, Orthodox, the EP that followed, Sanctuary Season, was met with deafening silence. Here, lead vocalist, guitarist and lyricist, Kyle Nicolaides, embarked down a strange, sedated musical path under the cloak of the band’s brand. Fortunately, latest album Are You Real? welcomes back bassist Daniel Curcio and drummer Tony Cupito, along with the raucous sound fans know and love this band for.
Are You Real? kicks off with ‘Muthafucka’, stamping their return with the opening declaration “Motherfucker, I’m back from the dead”. ‘Muthafucka’ is perhaps a gracious nod to the critics who have pooled Beware of Darkness into the centre of a Led Zeppelin and Jack White Venn diagram. Nicolaides serves up one of his signature wailing riffs, whilst Curcio and Cupito muster a driving rhythm comparable to Zeppelin’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’. Thereafter, the album breaks into a war cry against the “modern world” with ‘Blood, Sex, Violence and Murder’. One could postulate that this a flip of the bird to the current political environment, especially after the band’s virtual defacing of Mr D. Trump’s poster on a recent Snapchat story (it’s a ‘yes’ from me, lads).
Nicolaides’ vocals shine on this album. From the dark lullaby of ‘Beware’ to the gentle ballad ‘Sugar In The Raw’, vocals slither between cigarette-stained growls and haunting melodies with smooth dark chocolate undertones. However, at times lyrics are met with the response of an eyebrow hiking up my forehead. Some lines resemble a bad urban gangster movie script, as in the instances of “crushing on a bad bitch, yo” and “woman, I think you’re dope”. You could be forgiven for dismissing ‘Angel’, which begins with an overindulgent muttering monologue. Nonetheless, persevere past this and thou shalt be rewarded with a riff that erupts with rock’n’roll effervescence.
If heavy rock is not your tasse de thé, Beware of Darkness also please with lighter, preppy tunes in ‘Summer Daze’, ‘Surrender’ and the highly infectious ‘Dope’. Although Beware of Darkness’ progressive stance can be on the fence between revolutionary and just plain fickle, Are You Real? caters for a wealth of music tastes. An album filled with monstrous riffs, pleasurably filthy rhythm and battle cries laced with sweet lullabies and sorrowful moans, Beware of Darkness have ventured out of the shadows and into the light once more.