Two years ago, Jaime Page released an astounding EP called “Dark Universe” that absolutely floored me. Now, Page and the band (Craig Skelton, Michael Burn, and vocalist Donna Greene) are back with a new album called “Into The Black”. Before listening to my advance copy of this release, I wondered what to expect. “Dark Universe” seemed to be such a singular achievement. I needn’t have worried. “Dark Universe” was obviously only one step in the remarkable musical journey of Jaime Page’s Dark Universe.
“Into the Black” is a spectacular release on every level. Each track is a heavy, melodic gem, full of fire and darkness and emotions. There’s a depth and grandeur to this release that made Pink Floyd come to mind more than once as I listened. Not because this sounds like Pink Floyd, really, but because Pink Floyd is another band that has this kind of epic feel to their music.
Just like “Dark Universe”, “Into The Black” conjures a lot of its magic in the alchemy between Donna Greene’s masterful vocals and Jaime’s inspired guitar-work. You can hear it right away on the soaring “7th Heaven”, a melodic hard-rock beauty with echoes of The Beatles (goodbye hello). On “Weight of the World” the magic is darker, and the tune has a fierce, dark and almost operatic vibe, with a chilling rendition of Rule Britannia making an appearance (“masters of all that destroys us“). I get serious chills listening to this track.
Title track “Into the Black” is another one of my favourites, with riffs heavy enough to rattle all your bones, a gorgeous melodic depth below the riffs, and a raw and harrowing strength in Donna Greene’s outstanding vocals.
You can pick any track on this release – there’s not a weak one in the bunch.
There’s the sadness and melodic poetry of “Bleed Me Dry”; the almost otherworldly emotional and majestic feel of “Don’t Go”; and the all-out rocking awesomeness of “God Help the Rest of Us” (“life sucks and then you die“).
I just can’t overstate how excellent this release is. There’s a lot of darkness here to be sure, but at every turn, there is also light shining through that darkness. On “Shatter”, for example, the sheer emotional power of the music and lyrics gives me goosebumps and even makes me tear up. And “Falling In A Dream” is a freaking marvel of a tune – a dreamy and beautiful darkness, with that light glistening on top.
“Whatever” is another devastatingly good tune, softer and slower, as the lyrics speak about anxiety and depression and fear and how all things must end, with Page’s guitar shimmering through it all like a bit of hope shining through the clouds. The gentle vibe is there again on “Alone at the End of the World”, a tune that is a divine slice of gentle, wistful sadness.
My verdict: this album is one of the best things I’ve heard all year.
The CD launch for “Into the Black” takes place on April 28th at Badlands Bar in Perth. Find all the details on the band’s website: http://www.darkuniverse.com.au/