By Jordan Mooney.
Cat on the Wall loves a bit of rock. And metal. And punk. Basically, we like noisy music.
The strangest thing about this sort of music is there’s always a certain sense of dignity, a superiority in the tough, stagebound performer. Whether it’s standing in front of the incredible noise, the moving a strong guitar riff or as simple as being a few feet off of the ground on the stage in front of as few as twenty or as many as twenty thousand, rock adds a certain grandeur to even the most drunken, lecherous performer. Maybe it’s simply a rock and roll ego, but regardless, it’s there.
In a lot of the older bands, the classics, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Maiden, this dignity transpires to the music, where they become a practical orchestra of guitar and bass. It’s a difficult sort of complexity, a difficult sort of sound to capture, particularly in relatively small independent groups.
Dark Country, today’s feature, have captured that certain dignity while turning the impact up to eleven. It’s hard, it’s heavy, but it feels very educated and well put together. It feels experienced, incredibly so, and it has to be said, it feels like the band has every capability of going to the big time.
Dark Country simply have that skill of sounding articulate in their music – this isn’t the first time a band has shown this beyond our expectations, certainly, but in this case, with a combination of the best bits of rock, punk and metal, it’s quite a feat.
Speedy, high octane, loud and technical enough to sound like one of the old stalwarts of the movement, Dark Country’s eponymous debut has something for everyone who enjoys a bit of heavy music. Every riff, every finger twiddle on the tortured strings of the guitars (Trent Jacobs and Brandon Whalen) and bass (Peter Barteaux), every drum beat (Ian Jackson), it’s all been laid down with what seems to be a simultaneous aim in mind, and does so successfully.
The vocals, brought to the table by Jake McLoud, bring about reminders of a young Ozzy. Rebellious but oozing talent and with a similar sort of tone. Perhaps generous, but it’s a thought we can’t shake off and simply had to communicate..!
The album is mixed (By the talented Justin Phelps) to a similar aesthetic you might find in the starting years of the genre- think the late 70s, early 80s. This has two fairly similar effects – it feels very old school, very ‘classic’, very much an album that brings happy memories to those who lived that turbulent part of the music industry.
It also stands out against the current backdrop – It feels very fresh in a piece of the music world that seems to be having trouble finding a really modern identity, but trying every avenue in the process. It feels unusually straight, calculated and sure of itself. That confidence is something you can take to the bank.
We decided to sit down with the band to answer a couple of questions!
Cat on the Wall: Hello there, and welcome to Cat on the Wall! How are you today?
Dark Country: GggggREAT!
COTW: Please, introduce yourself – and your band – to our readers! Who are you, what do you do, and how would you describe your music?
DC: We are Dark Country, from Portland, Oregon. We play aggressive rock n roll – and we have fun doing it! We pretty much just work, play music and drink beers!
COTW: We’ve been listening to your debut eponymous EP non-stop, and we’re very impressed. It shows a suspicious (!) amount of skill for a first release – have you all had experience in bands in the past?
DC: Thanks! We’ve all been playing music for a while now. We all come from punk and rock bands.
COTW: Your music brings to mind the work of people who really, really love old school rock and roll. Are we right? What make up the majority of your inspiration?
DC: Yeah, we’re very much influenced by all the greats in rock history. We have so many different inspiration pools we pull from as individuals, but as a band we’re (mostly) influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy.
COTW: We have to say, your cover artwork for the release is incredible. What can you tell us about it?
DC: The guy that did the artwork is named Maahy. He’s from the Maldives. He’s extremely talented! We came across his artwork online, and contacted his management company to work out all the details. You can see more of his work on his facebook… https://www.facebook.com/Maahy.art
COTW: How did you find working in a studio environment? Did it all go smoothly, or did you find hang ups in the process?
DC: We loved it! It was an incredible experience, for sure! We had an amazing engineer over at Cloud City Sound here in Portland. We recorded all of the basic tracks to 2 inch tape, which is awesome – because it made it sound so much bigger! There are always hang ups in a studio environment, but we didn’t have much trouble. It was a great time.
COTW: What would you say is the best representation of you and your music? Live performances, or studio releases?
DC: Definitely live!
COTW: We understand you’re travelling to Mainland Europe very soon…what about us Brits?!
DC: Yes! This is our first time going to Europe and we’re hoping to visit the UK in the future for sure! We don’t want to forget about you!
COTW: Speaking of touring…what can our readers expect at a Dark Country gig?
DC: A very loud blend of chaos, confusion and lots of spilled beer. It’s an energetic and sweaty affair…
COTW: And what’s planned for Dark Country’s future?
DC: Right now, we’re very much focused on writing new songs and going to Europe. When we get home, we’ll finish our second album and go from there.
COTW: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us. We hope to hear from you again soon!
Choosing favourites on the record is difficult. We enjoyed everything it had to offer. If you like some nice, aggressive rock…you’ll probably enjoy the lot of it, too.
All of the self-titled debut is available on bandcamp below, where you can also purchase a physical copy and an absolutely wonderful special edition gold vinyl.