Washington band Darkenside joke that they sound like “a stadium rock band that plays breakdowns.” But it’s an apt description of a riff-heavy yet melodic modern metalcore approach that they describe as “powerful, energetic, and emotional.”
The Pacific Northwest quintet of Ron Jones (lead vocals), Brycen Holmes (rhythm guitar and vocals), Isaak Pyles (lead guitar and vocals), Jordan Lemire (bass and backing vocals) and Nathan Hocker (drums) formed out of the ashes of vocalist Ron’s former band, called Lylah Crying, with former drummer Ken. Ron had been writing some heavier material on the side and compiled enough for an EP. That band became Darkenside which, amidst several lineup changes, now has two EPs in addition to two full-length albums.
On the sound they’ve honed through that time, the band tells us: “Our sound is very diverse, we never want to just stick with one sound. But if we had to describe what it sounds like currently, I would say it’s a very modern metal sound with heavy riffs and breakdowns but blended with catchy hooks, melodies, and relatable lyrics. We often joke to our friends and fans that we sound like a stadium rock band that plays breakdowns.”
Their latest release is superb new album Descent, which followed a small hiatus from making music to solidify their lineup and evolve the Darkenside sound.
On that evolution, they told us: “We think the biggest reason for our music’s evolution thus far is the big lineup changes that took place in that five year span. After Ron gave up the rhythm guitar position and some of the songwriting duties to Brycen, it just naturally changed the band’s sound from an old school metal sound to a more modern metalcore style due to the different music and influences both guys have. Also adding two very talented members, Isaak and Nathan, helped evolve the sound even more so than it already has.”
The album opens up with the slow-building Broken, which eventually gives us a taster for the band’s brutality. And that taster is confirmed in second track Every Part Of Me, which opens up with engaging guitar chords and stabbing strings, then a cool riff supports intense screamed vocals. A stabbing guitar comes in and feeds into a big singalong chorus “With every crashing wave I feel I’m torn asunder, Like a venomous snake inside my mind to plunder, And when every part of me has finally been pulled under, Will I drown in the lies, have my days been numbered.”
Second time around, the chorus extends with impressive clean vocals, huge atmospheric instrumentals and pounding drums. A cool guitar solo takes over and drops into rapped vocals that develop into intense screams, stabbing guitars and rolling drums that show the sheer brutality of the band to bring the track to a close. Check this awesome track out below:
They change things up completely as the next track Don’t Mistake opens up with lighter guitars and clean vocals that flow into a catchy chorus. And that switch in styles perfectly sums up this intriguing album, which blends moments of melody and engaging tracks with pure intensity, like the powerful Judge Us and The Weight of the Ring.
One of the most impressive tracks on the album is the intense The Turning Tide, which opens with eerie synths and light guitars before a big scream blasts us into heavy guitars over huge vocals. That continues into a combination of clean and screamed vocals, the latter of which takes over in a second verse supported by powerful low-tuned guitars and driving drums.
That builds into a big chorus of singalong clean vocals “In a world that’s left you all alone, Made to endure this on your own, When no one was ever there to show you how to be whole, When every day is an endless fight, Struggling just to find a reason to hold on, hold on, Running out of time, Still waiting on a sign of the turning tide.”
Another intense verse of booming guitars and screamed vocals gets even heavier with big djenty guitars supporting throat-wrenching vocals, before atmospheric instrumentals support a second chorus. A huge cry of “the turning tide” ends on booming guitars that drop into a huge breakdown before crushing guitars and savage vocals bring the track to a heavy ending. Check it out in the video here:
The album somes to a somber, moving ending with its most recent single release When I Cave In, which focuses on suicide awareness from the perspective of people whose own demons consume them. The track opens with light strings then a blast of guitar chords and stabbing strings. That drops into a melodic opening verse that flows into a delicious singalong chorus “When I cave in (I’m sorry for the ones who found me), When I cave in (I couldn’t find the strength to break free), Lost again inside the pain I can face not one more day.”
On the track, Ron says: “Growing up, my family didn’t have much, and many of my friends were in the same situation. We learned to lean on each other. Travis Marymee was one of these friends. He was funny, charismatic, intelligent, athletic, tough as nails, and everyone loved him. He was, in a lot of ways, my biggest inspiration.
“Years went by, and we’d keep in touch. Eventually it was less frequent. But one day it all came crashing down. I woke to a phone call telling me my friend of nearly my whole life had taken his own. When working on Descent, we decided to honour him and bring light to the fact that this could happen to anyone. When I Cave In is a song inspired by Travis, but it’s also a cautionary tale that suicide is not the answer to suffering.” Check it out in the video here:
On the album as a whole, the band told us: “The reception of our latest album has been great! Nothing but positive feedback from our friends, family, and fans alike. For those who have yet to hear it, expect it to be much different than our previous work and be our best work yet. It’s hard-hitting, more emotional and relatable songwriting, which was intentional, and all around better production and time put into this album. We’re very proud of the final product.”
On what influences and inspires their music, the band tell us: “There are so many that it would take forever to list them all, especially with all four members sharing, but we have many different influences that we all bring to the table when writing music.
“For some of us it’s our friends in other bands that inspire us when they release new music, for others it’s the music and artists we look up to or are influenced by. We often write about many things that people struggle with on a daily basis whether it’s mental health, relationships, or things that are currently affecting us in the world today.”
There’s plenty more to come from Darkenside, considering they tell us they have at least 30 to 40 song ideas waiting to be brought into the light. Unfortunately, pandemic restrictions in their area have forced the band to cancel scheduled gigs for safety purposes, but in the meantime expect new material “sooner than you would think.”
As the band adds: “We are super passionate about our music and love our fans and anyone who supports what we do, without them we definitely wouldn’t be able to continue doing what we do with how the world is currently, so thank you for the continued support. New music is in the works like always and expect our new music to sound much different than Descent. We can’t wait for you guys to hear it.”