Album ReviewsReviews

Blackout Problems – Dark

ALBUM REVIEW: DARK
BRAND NEW ALBUM OUT NOW
VIA SONY MUSIC/MUSIC FOR NATIONS

This is the bands first major label release and it’s a mission statement that there’s a lot more to follow. Great song writing often comes in times of heartbreak or adversity and the Munich rockers have found inspiration in this pre-apocalytptic world. Leaving no stone unturned, there’s a holistic approach to their songwriting and the lyrics match the delivery of the music, in your face yet well balanced. The production is impressive and the band could bring it in a sweaty club or a stadium rock venue.

The band consist of Mario Radetzky (vocals, guitar), Marcus Schwarzbach (vocals, bass), Michael Dreilich (drums) and Moritz Hammrich (vocals, guitar). They formed in 2012 and have released two previous albums “Holy” (2016) and “KAOS” (2018) but 2020 sees the major leap with “Dark”.

Any album that starts with screams of “Get Your Shotgun Out” and makes references to “Burning Books” and “Dead Politicians” is bound to grab you. The track is stripped down at first with an overdriven bass drum beat and has a real intensity about it before the beat finally drops into a hypnotic rhythmic vibe highlighted by a great guitar solo. The epic analogue synths are wonderfully offset by the spoken melodic words RESPECT and LOVE which are a cry for hope against the resurgence of the right wing element in society. 

Heavily layered electronic beats and guitars are used in the next track “Brother” which feels like a personal story. You can almost feel the empathic target audience as they hug the barrier at live gigs mouthing the words back at the band. 

The band have an anthem with  “Germany Germany”, its got the MTV epic vibe to it. The video release is as disturbing as the lyrics at times and there’s no mistaking the band reflect on what impact recent history has left on them but they’ve grown like the rest of the world has.

“Darling” continues the rich multi-layered synth and bass driven anthems underwritten by lyrical content delivered in a minor key to tug on the listeners emotions. Listening on headphones brings out the production which is full on at times and the changes in melody can be subtle but worthy dealing into. The tracks way over 6 mins but not one you’d be tempted to skip over. 

The lyrics definitely have substance over style and worthy of dissemination in “House on Fire”. 

The title track of an album by an artist should give the listener an insight into what the band is about and what they’re measured by. “Dark” doesn’t quite match the intensity or musical appeal of a lot of the other tracks on the album but the entire album is melodic, atmospheric, anthem, dark, emotive, reflective, introspective and alluring. 

There’s depth and meaning in every track but sometimes the weight of delivery fails to hit the mark. Of course, the exception proves the rule with “Lady Earth” and “Fireman”. 

There’s elements in “Drive by” that demonstrate the band can bang out some real potential live bangers. It’s been released as a single.

Regarding the single, frontman and guitarist Mario Radetzky says, “DRIVEBY” is one of these songs that came about without a real plan. We wrote this one on a rainy day in Berlin and it was just a great moment to get out of Munich, spend some time in the capital with old friends and be creative in the midst of it all.

“You sometimes come up with stuff that is waiting in your unconsciousness and you just start to bring it up by writing down whatever comes to your mind. It happened not only once that the lines I came up with made sense later on. So take for instance the chorus line “I DON’T GET YOUR IGNORANCE” I could apply this one to a lot of things happening right now.”

The penultimate track is just the prelude the album needed before the final rallied angst ridden voice leaves the words “Love Thy Neighbour” hanging in the ether. 

Blackout Problems do benefit from being a visual band. The artistic use of video to expand their music definitely works as I found some of their music was elevated when I watched them on youtube rather than just streaming the audio. Another unexplored dynamic would of course be to hear the band live and that is definitely on the radar once it becomes an option again. The band are very accessible and although there’s a leaning towards sing-a-long alt/emo pop songs, there’s a maturity and depth of delivery of their songs that deserve a deeper dissection rather than dismissing them.

Alongside the album Blackout Problems are releasing the in-depth documentary DARK DAYS – THE DOCUMENTARY, which focuses on the creation of the album and the current state of being in a band and living life in Germany, and indeed Europe, today. Episode four is out now and available to watch here.

The four-piece have toured extensively across the globe, playing at festivals including The Great Escape, Rock am Ring and Rock Im Ring and last year they completed a forty-date European tour as support act to Royal Republic, followed by their first headline international tour with performances in England, France, Holland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Switzerland.
 
The new album DARK shows an exciting evolution from Blackout Problems earlier days. Now signed to Sony Music worldwide and partnering with legendary label Music For Nations in the UK, they stand poised for international success. Their new music captures the weltschmerz of a generation and gives a voice to those who are willing to stand up for love, respect and social justice.

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