Dark Empire - From Refuge To Ruin

Dark Empire - From Refuge To Ruin

(CD, Nightmare Records, 2012)

If I hadn’t known anything about the history of DARK EMPIRE, I would have opposed the Heavy Metal tag rather fast. Of course, it is mainly the first tracks “A Plague In The Throne Room” and “Dreaming In Vengeance” from DARK EMPIRE’s third full length “From Refuge To Ruin” that sound more typical melodic Death Metal in the veins of SCAR SYMMETRY than the traditional German Power Metal tag I’d associated DARK EMPIRE with. Still it is easy to write off a band on the first impression. For the first records DARK EMPIRE’s line-up included PERSUADER, SAVAGE CIRCUS vocalist Jens Carlsson. Anyone with the slightest interest in melodic Heavy Metal knows him for his ability to sound freakishly much as Hansi Kürsch from BLIND GUARDIAN. From time to time Brian Larkin touches that influence as well and then the result is really good. For me the harsh vocals don’t really fit into the picture really, while I really enjoy all the different clean voices.

Take “Dark Seeds Of Depravity” for example; here DARK EMPIRE swing between the dark moody riffs and change over to a really catchy chorus line which brings RAGE, around “Black In Mind” to mind. The title track “From Refuge To Ruin” is a massive piece clocking ten minutes. This song really shows how versatile DARK EMPIRE can be since, holding both acoustic parts as well as heavy and speedy bits and pieces.

In general “From Refuge To Ruin” sounds really good with a modern production without being too forced and adjusted. There is still an organic feel to the sound which really is a benefit for me since many records released these days tend to be static without emotion. It could perhaps have been a little more air in the whole thing to fit my taste even better of course, but this is all my taste. However, despite this is a very well-played and well-written record, it fails to make as big an impact on me as it should have done. For some reasons nothing, apart from the title track “From Refuge To Ruin”, gets stuck with me. The closing track of the album “The Cleansing Fires” is also a very massive track with a lot of changes which sometimes even touches upon NEVERMORE ala “This Godless Endeavour” style.

So, this really should be something for me, but believe me I’ve really given it time. No matter what, this record is absolutely worth listening to, as most everything that is put out on the Nightmare Records label, especially if you’re a fan of the above mentioned bands or just into Dark Power Metal in general.





01. A Plague In The Throne Room
02. Dreaming In Vengeance
03. The Crimson Portrait
04. Dark Seeds Of Depravity
05. From Refuge To Ruin
06. Lest Ye Be Judged
07. What Men Call Hatred
08. Black Hearts Demise
09. The Cleansing Fires


Brian Larkin - Vocals
Matt Moliti - Guitar, Vocals (harsh)
Randy Knecht - Bass
Matt Graff - Drums (session)