Album review

The Darkness : Permission To Land
Must Destroy

The Darkness : Permission To LandQueen, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Guns 'n' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy. Yes, they are all classic, unquestionably brilliant rock acts. But what else do you notice about them? That's right, they are all very old bands. Our present musical scene has no real guitar heroes or beautifully arrogant frontmen backed up by bands that destined for rock 'n' roll stardom. It seems our current rock landscape is clearly devoid of balls-out, unashamedly traditional stadium-stomping geniuses. Enter Dan and Justin Hawkins, Frankie Poullain and Ed Graham; collectively known as The Darkness.
    There has already been a lot of hype surrounding the quartet over their cock-rock music and flamboyantly fantastic old school approach. The album is exceptional. Just listening to Permission To Land's engrossing solos and almost tongue-in-cheek attitude will bring back memories of the bands already mentioned . . .

With solos in practically every song and some fine picking, Dan Hawkins may well be the next British guitar hero. Freddie Poullain, an exiled Scot who was living in Venezuela, could easily be an icon for bassists worldwide with his handlebar moustache, oversized headband and an appearance reminiscent of an 80s rock god.
    The Darkness' image is probably regarded as just as important as their music and cocky attitude: "We're going to take over," quoted Justin in an interview at Glastonbury this year. Either he has psychic powers or is extremely confident, most likely the latter.

Black Shuck begins the 10 track journey with a steady, foot-stamping beat that soon erupts as Justin's high-pitched vocals race through the chorus. Without his voice The Darkness would be seriously lacking some talent, not to mention an unmistakable reference to Queen's Freddie Mercury. The album marches on in its pink spandex glory, reaching the frankly brilliant Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman and hurtling through the sure-fire hit single Growing On Me.
    Stuck In A Rut is one of the best songs on Permission To Land; a soaring riff combined with Justin performing what seems to be an impersonation of Gollum from Lord Of The Rings. Once again The Darkness walk the fine line between a rock 'n' roll anthem and a deliberately amusing track. Don't be fooled though, there are a couple of slow songs on this excellent disc.
    Love Is Only A Feeling is a stunning rock ballad, featuring some double tapping that the greatest of guitarists would be jealous of, and Friday Night is a love song about taking part in extra-curricular school activities - such as rowing and badminton - just to be with someone. Again, the humorous tongue-in-cheek outlook is present.

I can’t find any faults with Permission To Land, and I guarantee even the harshest of critics will have trouble as well. You can't help but smile when listening to this; an album that is an instant hit rather than a grower.
    The Darkness are exactly what England and the rest of the world needs: A band who are unashamed of wearing spandex, dress like they are stuck in a time warp and crack out a fantastic album such as this. The Darkness have the potential to be remembered along with the other elite bands our country has produced, and deservedly so. It's a refreshing release, and while The Darkness may well be heavily influenced by old bands, they are the only group who dare let this shine through, creating something that is brilliant and very different. Where did I put my headband?

:: Graham Drummond

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