Life Eternal, by Dark the Suns
Suggested by Noli-Rose Nikitaki
On our honeymoon in Las Vegas, Sarah and I saw Meatloaf in concert.
We’re not particular fans, if we’re honest. The gig was a gift for Sarah’s Maid of Honour, who was an absolute legend when it came to our wedding. She’s a huge fan of the ‘Loaf, so the three of us rocked out together.
The show was part of Meatloaf’s Rocktellz and Cocktails residency at the Planet Hollywood Casino on the Vegas Strip. Part intimate biographical chat, part theatrical supersong revival, it was a fine time spent in the company of a genuine legendary showman. In the conversational segments, we all learnt a great deal about the mighty Meat, but it was in the high camp rendition of his classic catalogue that we learnt the most important thing of all.
We learnt that Meatloaf has completely lost it.
He can’t sing any more. Like, at all. The fabulous Mr Loaf was reduced to sub-Club-Singer Vic Reeves warbling, massacring his legacy with an almost bloody-minded resolve. The supporting musicians were fabulous, especially the female singer tasked with carrying him in his power ballad duets, but at times it was heart-breaking to hear.
Why am I discussing Meatloaf? Because I think he might have a future as a member of Dark the Suns.
Life Eternal’s opening track lulls you into a false sense of security. It’s melodic rock-metal with a driven uplifting feel, and the first vocals are a breathy whispering affair that wouldn’t be out of place in a brooding R&B track. Then the growl arrives, bizarrely and out of nowhere, and almost completely at odds with the melodic gothic music it accompanies. The second track, Sleepless Angels, offers more of the same.
Where things get truly exciting, however, is where the growl-whisperer teams up with the female vocalist for some sublime balladeering. Songs like The Dead End and my personal favourite Walking With An Angel are melodic goth at its most attractive, with duelling vocals layering a sense of the divine to every bar.
It’s songs like these that I can see Meatloaf hitting clean out of the park, diminished vocal capacity or not. They’re replete with his trademarks, like haunting piano or swelling strings, and they have a strong female vocalist able to do a great deal of the melodic heavy lifting. And as old Loafy would be replacing a grunt-growling gibbon, he would only need ten percent of his power to blitz the formar vocals from our brains.
Of course, I’m being facetious for the review’s narrative. In reality, the growling vocals on Life Eternal are actually pleasantly restrained. In all honesty, Dark the Suns have genuinely surprised me today. In presenting me with some beautiful nuance to the Growl Genre, couched in a cocoon of elegant yet powerful rock-metal, they’ve made me embrace my most hated of vocal embellishments and offer a score that’s almost worthy of merit.
To paraphrase the mighty Meatloaf himself, “I heard it, I liked it, but there’s no way that I’m ever gonna love it, now don’t be sad… ‘cos 6/10 ain’t bad.”