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Review: White Skull - The Dark Age
White Skull
The Dark Age

Label: Frontiers Records
Year released: 2002
Duration: 52:21
Tracks: 12
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 3.5/5

Review online: April 1, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
The Dark Age

Rated 3/5 (60%) (10 Votes)

I am unfortunately going to get on the bandwagon here and agree that this is not White Skull's best work. Unlike many other reviewers, however, I am not going to lay that at the door of new vocalist Gustavo Gabarro. I just think White Skull are stuck in a rut.

"The Dark Age" is the first album White Skull have done without Frederica De Boni on the mike, but let me say right away that the new guy is just fine. His may not have as much character as her voice did, but he sounds actually better in a lot of ways. Not so much straining to sound tough, if you know what I mean. There is certainly nothing about this album that you have not heard on previous WS albums, or in Italian metal in general. And therein lies the actual problem with this CD: a complete lack of innovation.

White Skull used to be cool because they didn't sound like every other Italian Power Metal band. They were heavier and meaner, they were about guitars rather than keys. But with "The Dark Age" the skulls have fallen largely back on generic songwriting that recalls their earlier albums, yet lacks much of the spark and fire that made "Public Glory, Secret Agony" for example, so much fun. After the required "Intro" track – which I am getting royally sick of by the way – the first two songs on this CD are utterly generic and utterly disposable. Both the title cut and "Grand Inquisitor" are just blah, with waaaaaayyyyy to much keyboards and not enough metal. Things do pick up with the stomping riffs of "Maid Of Orleans", followed by the heavier tracks like "New Crusade" and the killer "The Edict". But then they kill the momentum with "Voice From The Heaven" and they never really get it going again, with the album winding down in a morass of unmemorable tracks that blend together, followed by another instrumental "outro" track.

You always get some titties on a White Skull album cover, which is cool, but their lyrics need serious work. The design of the booklet is good, with cool cover art, and the concept of an album about the Inquisition is a good one, if not terribly original. But the lyrics are just short of embarrassing.

So White Skull have taken a step back, and a step toward more generic Italian metal with "The Dark Age". Once again too much keyboard wankery and not enough pedal-to-the-floor METAL signals the decay of a once good band. I'm not writing White Skull off, and they could easily turn this all around with the next one, but overall "The Dark Age" is a disappointment. It has its moments, but moments do not an album make.

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