CD Reviews

The Darkness - 'Hot Cakes' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 02, 2013    
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A classy heavy rock album, packed full of hooks and riffs.

There are very few bands that can polarize the opinions of the rock world the way The Darkness do. They bring some classic heavy rock riffs that the likes of Malcolm Young would be proud of and then add vocals that are either fantastic or farcical depending on your point of view. Don’t doubt or question the credentials of Dan Hawkins’ song writing or guitar work, opening track ‘Every Inch Of You’ has as chunky an AC/DC style sound as you could hope to hear and the pace quickly steps up with the frenetic ‘Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us’ with its rock ‘til you drop attitude. ‘With A Woman’ then follows with a ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ influenced opening keeping Dan’s playing on a high with some great lead work before ‘Keep Me Hanging On’ has more of a Southern Boogie feel to it with rhythm of Frankie Poullain and Ed Graham pounding on regardless.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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But over all of this classic rock music there are Justin’s vocals. And that’s really the whole paradox of The Darkness. Whilst it’s Justin’s falsetto vocal highs that give the band their distinctive sound and separate them from the Airbourne’s and Rhino Bucket’s of the rock world, it’s those same falsettos that irritate if not alienate many of their potential fan base. When after the opening phrases of the album Justin hits one of those highs to announce that every man, woman and chile wants to ‘Suck My Cock’ the reaction is – No Justin, we really don’t! Whilst some of the lyrics are clearly autobiographical and pretty clever at times too, the sexual and innuendo content just seems unnecessary. I’ve got to admit I’m in the irritated camp as regard the vocals, but what really frustrates the hell out of me is that it all seems unnecessary. Justin Hawkins actually has decent, strong vocals without having to put in the helium sounding moments. Favourite track on the album is ‘Everybody Have A Good Time’ which is the one song that Justin limits himself to a “normal” vocal range.

Overall this is a classy heavy rock album, packed full of hooks and riffs that stand up to comparison with anything else of the genre that’s out there at the moment. It’s the best offering we’ve had from The Darkness to date with a touch of AC/DC here, a bit of The Cult there – even a bit of Maiden influence at times but still managing to maintain a commercial even melodic at times style... This album should be establishing Dan Hawkins as a true classic rock writer guitarist, displaying some stunning lead and rhythm guitar work. But it won’t, as even though it’s an album well worth a listen from any rock fan, that vocal divide will still be too much for most to overcome. And although I do enjoy much of this album, I can’t help thinking – Dan, is there any chance of that second Stone Gods album you recorded ever being released?

Ian Parry

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