Darkness, known for their retro hair metal riffs and their falsetto frenzied
front man, keep the same formula for this, their sophomore effort, "One
Way Ticket To Hell
And Back." For those that were fans of their
debut, "Permission To Land," there will be reason to rejoice
in this similar offering. If anything, the band shows a slight maturity
and a proven quality of songwriting skill here. Incorporating more harmony
vocals, and even a string arrangement ("Seemed Like A Good Idea At
The Time"), the band is sounding even more like their idols, Queen.
The AC/DC rhythm giving way to the manicured chorus of vocal harmonies,
and a Brian May influenced solo, makes "Is It Just Me?" more
than just a nod to the majestic Queen sound. Rest assured, you'll hear
the gang vocal resurgence throughout the album that will bring flashes
of Freddie and the guys into your head again and again.
The last two tunes on the record, "English Country Garden" and
"Blind Man," could very well land these guys in court. They
wrote Queen songs instead of The Darkness songs with these two. It's one
thing to "do what you do" and end up sounding like someone else,
but when you write songs to purposely fit in a box of some kind it ends
up sounding fake and premeditated. "Hazel Eyes" finds the band
showing a bit of diversity that gets away from the Queen thing with a
unique song that has a Slade-like Scottish traditionalism, while maintaining
their hard rock attitude. Probably their biggest step forward comes with
a song called "Dinner Lady Arms", which is just a simple rock
song with a great hook that's just really well written and arranged. The
band has a couple songs here that sound like leftovers from their debut
also. The title cut keeps to the rock steady rhythm section, and "Knockers"
is a "cock rock" anthem, for which they seem to do oh so well.
Perhaps the most interesting song is the dark and heavy "Bald."
This is quite a huge departure in style for this group, which sometimes
seems locked into the lighter, sillier side of things.
Speaking of such horror, the lighthearted "Girlfriend" has a
bit of a 70's disco flavor, so for that I'll take some points off, but
overall this is a delightful hard rock record. It's definitely not perfect,
but this record does prove that this band has a legitimate amount of talent.