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Review: Dark Age (USA) - Dark Age
Dark Age (USA)
Dark Age

Label: Keltic Records
Year released: 2012
Originally released in: 1984
Duration: 39:49
Tracks: 11
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: May 31, 2017
Reviewed by: Omni
Readers Rating
Dark Age

Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (5 Votes)

There were many young heavy metal bands in the 1980s that recorded a single release and then vanished without a trace. Dark Age is one such band, with this self-titled EP being their only output. With a lineup featuring vocalist Robert Stevens, guitarists Johnny "LJ" Issacs and Alan Foley, bassist Jimmy Thaiger and drummer Jeff "Exx" Brunton, the band had an easy time securing a record deal due to their reputation in the local scene in Los Angeles. Thaiger, whose real name appears to be James McGearty, had previously appeared on the excellent Only Theatre of Pain and Deathwish by Christian Death.

The aggressive "Metal Axe" starts things off, making it immediately obvious that this is a prime cut of 1980s US power metal. The guitar duo of Issacs and Foley play dynamic and heavy songs at a level that belies their status as unknown musicians and their playing is a consistent strong point throughout the EP's short runtime. Stevens is a versatile vocalist that specializes in strong mid-range vocals, high-pitched falsetto screams. "Tales of Medusa" also showcases a deeper and more melodic side of his voice. Thaiger's bass playing adds an extra layer of melody under the guitars and Brunton's drumming is very solid without really standing out as exceptional. The production is quite professional for this type of release, being handled Steve Sinclair and Randy Burns. This duo also worked on albums by more famous bands such as Agent Steel, Helstar, Possessed and Death.

There is a lot of variety to the songs, perhaps owing to the fact that multiple members of the band contributed songwriting for the album. "Warrior" even features a playful reference to The Warriors that is sure to appeal to the leather and spikes crowd. The quality of the music is far above the average unknown band from the 1980s and rivals that of many more well-known bands. "Viper" and "Dark Age" are probably the true highlights of this consistently fantastic release, with the latter song featuring great lyrics by Thaiger about the fall of the Roman Empire. It seems appropriate that this song shares its name with the band, as it features the most ambitious songwriting out of the bunch.

The overall quality of this release really serves to illustrate that Dark Age could have been a big name in 1980s metal if they had stuck around for even one full-length release. The 2012 Keltic Records CD reissue also includes live performances of "Metal Axe" and "Messenger to Ascheron" and an unreleased mix of "Viper" as bonus tracks. The live songs demonstrate that Dark Age was a formidable act in their day, despite the inferior sound quality of the recordings. This is an essential release for fans of underground heavy metal from the United States and a real gem among the many obscure EPs of the 1980s.

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