Artist: Darke Complex
Album: Point Oblivion
If you aren’t familiar with the neuro-biological concept of “pruning,” then these first couple sentences might seem a little aloof—but bear with me. As we develop, our brains undergo a series of chemical changes that result in both growth and refinement. We form new neuronal pathways and synapses for new skills and knowledge while simultaneously initiating apoptosis—that’s controlled cell death—in pathways we don’t use. As such, as have synaptic pathways in our heads that are on the constant brink of being completely…forgotten. To be entirely undone. They must either become worthwhile, useful or advantageous lest they become cast into oblivion.
Now imagine someone who’s life is stuck in that same unyielding purgatory—the constant brink of being either useful or unnecessary, but never truly one or the other. If someone could write and recite the thoughts and feelings of that tortured, punished soul, it would likely sound very similar to the haunting, emotional and psychoactive content abundant in the debut full length by Texas-based nu-metal quartet Darke Complex. Point Oblivion—much like our brains in the early stages of development—is the very picture of growth and development. With their debut EP, Widow redefining and highlighting nu-metalcore‘s gestational period, Darke Complex have dropped the over-the-top antics and absurd heaviness (excellent though it was) for something more tactful and almost intimate in the way it haunts the listener’s ears. More than a “new (or nu) Linkin Park” or “Meteora 2.0,” Darke Complex take the best elements from their stand-out sound on Widow and make it into something even fresher, catchier and more unpredictable—seeing one band define two different genres within their relatively short lifespan.
To say that Widow was instrumentally intense is an understatement; it was (and still is) a dark, dissonant and psychologically devastating display of musical prowess. In many ways, Point Oblivion captures that same intensity—the same dismal, depressive atmosphere spiked with sinister energy abundant on Widow, just channeled through a different medium. Doing away with over-the-top breakdowns and jarring, sharp effects in favor of catchiness and a newfound emphasis on bouncy, riff-driven song structure. At their very core, percussionist Lynden Rook is ruthless—technically sharp while groovy and fluid at the same time. Songs like the more aggressive anthems “Dead to Me” and “Out of Options” see the madman channeling some of the same chaotic candor that made listeners fall in love with his work on Widow—while more well-rounded tracks like “Erase” or “One of Us” see Rook letting up on belligerent aggression and adding more subtlety that allows him to work carefully with bassist Moth Tracy and the guitarist—operating under the pseudonym Okage—creating a truly talented and tremendous trifecta of musical prowess. Tracy’s bass serves as the low, pulsing and pounding foundation for Okage’s diverse fretwork. Whether it’s the scathing intensity that kicks off “Dead to Me” or the hypnotic melodies defining “Memory Museum,” Okage’s work draws influence from all across the metal and metalcore space-time continuum. With razor-sharp riffs and bouncy, nu-infused segments a la Korn and Slipknot with entrancing, Deftones-esque moments of mesmerizing harmonies and ethereal atmosphere, Darke Complex find themselves building from a strangely familiar scaffold, adding bits of intangible energy and a little bit of pure insanity to create something new, fresh, and unlike any other metal, metalcore or heavy band on the road right now—and while, at first listen to “Void,” the incessant Linkin Park comparisons might have made sense, as the listener ventures further and further into Point Oblivion‘s rabbit hole, the more of an oversimplification that assumption becomes.
The further the listener dives into Point Oblivion, the more twisted and warped things become—in large part to the vocal and lyrical talents of frontman Vincente Void. With hoarse screams and shouts still channeling the raw and unfiltered grit of Darke Complex’s “-core” history, songs like the introductory number, “Dead to Me” do a good job of indoctrinating the listener into Point Oblivion with a dose of the familiar—even adding in vocal duties from Okage and Tracy—but the familiar only lasts a matter of minutes before the reality constructed in Darke Complex’s previous songs becomes a memory. “Nothing Within” sees Void step away almost entirely from anything the listener would have even thought to associate with the band as they know them—and by the time the mellow, catchy and melancholic “Abandoned” begins, Widow’s funeral is complete, and from the burial plot of the band’s grating, raw screams and shrieks, a more talented and well-rounded vocal dynamic is born. Void’s voice soars—dipping into fierce screams and fluid, dizzying rapped segments where need be—over the sprawling instrumentation abound on Point Oblivion. What’s more is that Void is assisted plentifully by Tracy and Okage where need be—especially on surprise tracks like “Marking Targets” and “Cold Blooded” (don’t worry, I won’t ruin the surprise–but fans of “Frigid” will have to pick their jaw up from off of the floor). It’s hard to speak for Void’s talent—lyrically and vocally—because it speaks so well for itself. His honest, humble and relatable lyrics coated in a mesmerizing croon or red-hot rapped voice are nothing short of incredible in ways that challenge the listener’s comprehension in the best ways possible.
“Hold on,” you’re probably thinking. “For an article about Point Oblivion, it really seems like you’re focusing a bit much on Widow.”
Fair point—but not without good reason. For myself—and many others, doubtlessly—Widow is one of precious few releases that defined the explosion of the nu-metalcore amalgamation. Darke Complex successfully captured the energy and attitude of a budding genre and gave it the kick it needed to truly explode—and with Point Oblivion, they’re doing it again with a very different style. Point Oblivion is a series of incredible highs and depressive, devastating lows. Vivid, bright tracks like “Dead to Me,” “One of Us” and “Out of Options” sharply contrasted with moody, melodramatic and moving songs like “Erase,” “Memory Museum” and “Wounds,” and spiced up with the unexpected “Marking Targets,” Point Oblivion is expressive in ways that see Darke Complex stepping out of their comfort zone, putting the sum of their creative energies into something truly unique that will boundlessly take the music communities—heavy and otherwise—by storm.
For Fans Of: Deftones, Depeche Mode, Slipknot, Linkin Park, Korn, Sworn In
By: Connor Welsh