Artist: Darke Complex
Album: Widow – EP
It is a pleasant fall morning: the sun shines through the slits in your blinds, and leaves slowly die and flake away from the trees in front of your modest apartment complex. You awake with a bizarre combination of anxiety and excitement. Without even checking your calendar or looking at your cell phone’s reminders, you know exactly what day it is. It is the first day of the last week of your life. That is the feeling that greets the listener at the onset of Widow, the debut EP from the mysterious nu-metalcore act Darke Complex. Adequately named, the songs that follow are an introspective examination of the thoughts and feelings that act as a countdown to the end of your existence—a startling mix of speed, heaviness, bounce and atmosphere, Widow forces the listener to savor each second of its inventive onslaught, because the only thing waiting for the listener at it’s end is death.
Each day you wake begins with a different feeling; where the first day is an energetic excitement, the next a deeper-seated anxiety that runs along your spine and forces your fingers to tremble uncontrollably. No two hours–let alone days–are the same, much as no two tracks on Widow are truly alike. Darke Complex oscillate between frenzied, intense instrumentation and darker, more atmospheric aspects of agonizing self-hatred. “Slime,” as well as the anthemic “Invertebrate” are excellent examples of the former–as they feature some of the greatest examples of “nu-metalcore” to grace heavy music recently. “Slime” features an acidic bass tone and relentless percussion (that carries over from the frantic opener, “Crows”) that coats the listener in later after layer of liquid heaviness. “Invertebrate” is much the same, showcasing how easily Darke Complex can side from hyper-heavy breakdowns to eerie, Deftones-esque harmony. Even in spite of Darke Complex’s disastrous aggression on “Invertebrate” and the like, there is a darker side to them–the side that prevails on the unique “Frigid” and “Grief.” What these tracks lack in instrumental punch, they make up for with two of the most invasive, catchy beats this side of the Radio Top 40. “Frigid” is simply evil—a trap track turned on its head and dipped in filth—while “Grief” will haunt the listener’s dreams for weeks on end. While these two songs take enormous detours from the rest of Widow‘s raunchy musicianship, they are well worth the trip, as they contain some of the EP’s most memorable moments.
While your mood shifts from day to day, the voices in your head never falter in urging you towards your grim goal. No matter how bright the sun shines, the eerie croon echoes: tomorrow is when you end it all—In the very words of Darke Complex’s enigmatic frontman on “Grief.” Each song on Widow builds and builds in intensity—even when the vocals shift from shrill screams to solemn, subtle singing. “Crows” is outwardly morbid and masterfully catchy, a brilliant segue into “Slime.” However, tracks like “Frigid” and “Grief” that don’t show off Darke Complex’s diverse and awe-inspiring vocal range are still daunting, weighing on the listener’s mind as opposed to their shoulders. Widow is a perfect culmination of insanely invasive, catchy lyrics and a wide array of masterfully screamed, shouted and sung vocal styles, done so that even when “Invertebrate” and it’s chorus kick in, or when the suicide ballad “Grief” begins, the listener is still feeling completely ravaged, physically and emotionally.
By the dawn of the final day, you are truly ready to die. By the time “Intrusive Thoughts” kicks off, you have endured more suffering than the human spirit was meant for. Darke Complex provide the immensity of a complex emotional spectrum on Widow: beginning with remorseless aggression and ending in bitter, solemn depression. Every track is a new instrumental canvas for lyrics of dismay and despair to fling blood and tears upon, hoping something sticks. Whether it’s the epic length and intensity of “Invertebrate” or the sinister urgency in “Desperation,” each song has a trademark–something to make it memorable. If “Crows” doesn’t get stuck in your head, it’s likely because the introduction to “Slime” is already lodged there—and if it isn’t “Slime”…well, you get the picture. Widow is made of millions of subtle brilliance (like the Gangs of New York-esque snap transition in “Invertebrate”) that adds up to nothing less than a magnificent portrait of perfection.
As the closing seconds of “Intrusive Thoughts” serve as a soundtrack to your lengthy fall from the top of your towering apartment building, crows gather, squawking in sinister approval. Widow put you through your paces as Darke Complex tested every iota of your psyche. Just as countless bands will fall and fail before this testament of musical brilliance, you were no match: destined to rot at the hands of Darke Complex’s dynamic, depressive mastery.
For Fans Of: YXVNG, Villains, Gift Giver, Eavesdropper, Noose
By: Connor Welsh