Dark Summer are an American modern metal band formed back in 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The band’s debut album Full Circle, was released in 2017 and since then they have released a steady stream of singles. I discovered these guys through Facebook and as soon as I heard their most recent single I loved it. I thought I’d do a review of both that one, Bender, and their other 2020 release, Bloodshot Memory, in the hope that people will read this and go check them out and enjoy them as much as I do!
Starting with Bloodshot Memory, the band starts off with some eerie electronically produced high keyboard notes, setting the tone beautifully. It then immediately blasts into a heavy, dropped tuned, almost djent-like riff, one that got my head bobbing immediately. The riff remains through the verse but is stripped back a little, giving the vocals some space to breath. The vocals themselves sound heavily inspired by Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, starting off softer before exploding into an awesome sounding scream mid-verse. The scream brings with it a heavier half of the verse, with the band going full whack with the opening riff again before it drops down to a singular guitar for a quiet little bridge. The quiet doesn’t last long, though, soon exploding into a huge, catchy chorus. The soaring vocals work so well over the lower heavy guitar tones, making it sound massive and anthemic while retaining the distorted heaviness very well.
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Another short riff and an awesome chorus, the second half lacking the screaming the first verse had but more than making up for it in a slower, beautiful descending melody. A second chorus gives way to an awesome little buildup before the inevitable insane, heavy breakdown. Introduced by the best scream in the song and boasting a great slow, heavy riff it may be one of my favourite breakdowns of the year. Especially with the vocalist screaming his heart out over the top. The breakdown gives way to an awesome solo, one that gave me very big Bullet For My Valentine vibes with it being both technical while also having a lot of emotion and feeling in there. The band then strips it back after the solo, going back down to guitars and some electronic sounds before exploding back into a final chorus and outro riff. A great, heavy yet still pretty radio friendly song!
Moving onto their most recent single, Bender. The opening fades in with an awesome guitar riff, again keeping it heavy. The added electronic sounds over the top are a nice touch, giving it an almost horror metal vibe. Also the drummer is working overtime here, whether it’s some insanely fast double bass work or some subtle half-time beats, it all sounded awesome. The song drops down to just drums and vocals for the first half of the verse, highlighting just how good the singer is. Meanwhile, as it gets heavy again the vocals suddenly remind me of music coming out around the end of nu-metal, think Godsmack or Static X.
Now we reach my only slight gripe with the song, there is no pre-chorus or bridge or anything between the verse and the chorus, it just dives straight in, leaving me feeling a little disjointed and, as a result, it doesn’t make the chorus feel as big as it could do. However, the chorus is still great, the sneaky repetition of ‘er’ at the end of each verse making it massively catchy and easy to sing along to live. In fact, it’s so catchy that if it wasn’t for the heavy riffs around it it could even work as a ballad.
The second verse changes it up, keeping it heavier with the huge guitar sounds and some awesome harmonics. It also all has more of a modern nu metal vibe to it, which is great, we don’t have nearly enough of it any more. Another quick transition into the chorus before a great little bridge coming out of it, with a combination of great melodic vocals and harsh screams behind them. A more technical guitar solo than the last song follows, giving the lead player a real chance to show off his chops and he delivers big time. It drops down a little quieter again after the solo before building into a huge final chorus. We also get a great, heavy outro with this song, it being bouncy and chuggy and would also most likely go over great live.
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Overall, both of these tracks are great. The band do a great job of taking the older, early 2000s type of style and modernizing it, mixing it with some of the more modern metal bands’ sound. Both singles are heavy yet catchy and radio friendly enough that they can continue going from strength to strength and could easily become a big name in the metal world soon enough!
The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths