After enduring crushing sorrow, loss and personal grief, The Darling Fire return with their sophomore release, Distortions. Distortions is comprised of 10 tracks that encapsulate both beauty and pain, seamlessly combining elements of shoegaze, post-hardcore, and metal into a DNA-distinct blend. Ethereal, almost ghostly female vocals float above a pounding wall of sound. The end result is an album that is bleak, somber, and enchanting.
Distortions is a stark departure from their debut album Dark Celebration (Spartan Records) expanding on the band’s full sound by creating something more atmospheric and accessible all while being moody and complex.
The album opens with “Machina” (the album’s first single) which quickly sets the tone sonically with both the instrumentation and vocals. If you have listened to Dark Celebration you will notice immediately that the production on Distortions is much more tight and is where the strong atmospheric quality of the album comes from. “Heart Will Stop” follows and is very guitar driven with a solid backbone provided by Steve’s [Kleisath] drumming prowess.
The second single from the album, “Clean Hands,” opens with a very ethereal almost symphonic sound that pairs well with Jolie’s [Lindholm] vocals. The track leans full force into the enchantingly moody side of things and is a beautifully crafted track from start to finish. “Downer” starts out as a fairly mellow track but quickly shifts gears with the soaring guitar hooks that are laden throughout the track. Jolie’s occasional vocalizing in the background adds to the ghostly ambiance of the track giving it a distinct layered texture. “Amber” (the fourth single) rounds out the first half of the album with more of Jolie’s vocal dynamics being perfectly showcased amidst another brilliantly composes structure.
“Hers” (the album’s latest single) opens up the second half of the album and soars in with some very crunchy guitar riffs that mesh well with the drumwork. The track has a strong 90s feel to it and is type of track that is sure to fully come alive in the live setting. In my personal opinion, it is the best track on the album as it is so musically diverse and complex. “Perigree” follows and is probably the most mellow track on the album with some shining moments where the basswork takes a bit of a front seat in a way that continues to build upon the depth already established on the album musically.
“Rituals” opens with some of the most complex guitar work on the album that instantly gets your attention. With it being so late in the album it is easy to see that the album as a while was crafted in a way to keep the listener engaged and leaves no room for any “fluff” or “filler” tracks. It was released at the album’s third single and in my interview with guitarist Jeronimo Gomez he stated that it’s favorite track to play (read that full interview here).
The album closes out with “Samsara” and “Legless” which are the longest songs on the album clocking in at over 5 minutes each. “Samsara” has some unique and interesting builds throughout and again showcases the lush instrumentation that we have seen since the beginning of the album. “Legless” might be the heaviest track on the album and could easily draw some comparisons to some of Evanescence’s early work both vocally and musically. Adding to the “heaviness” of the track it should note that it also includes some screaming/rough vocals in parts in the background adding to the layering even more. It serves as the perfect bookend to the album all while creating a sense of longing for more.
Given the vast accumulative musical tenure held between all the members of The Darling Fire it is easy to see how they are able to create such diverse and complex album while keeping it accessible and magical.