Release Date: May 31, 2011
Run Time: 43:09
3. The Heart of the Sea
4. Don’t Shut ‘Em Down
5. The Power’s Out
6. So Sail On
7. Saints & Sinners
8. This Present State of Grace
9. The Cradle of Humankind
10. Oliver Boy (All of Our Boys)
11. A Prayer for Me in Silence
12. Rise Up
Speed Of Darkness is the fifth studio release from Flogging Molly. It was difficult for me to write this review because it was a difficult album to listen to. I just wanted to wad up the sheet of paper, toss it over my shoulder in hopes that Flogging Molly would try again. The album is about the economic situation in Detroit. While I appreciate the awareness the band is trying to raise, musically it just falls flat.
I found it to be very inconsistent, and the ability to keep a decent flow throughout the album was a little obnoxious. What you can expect is hackneyed lyrics, out of place accordions, vocal distortions and more tempo changes than you can shake a stick at. Sometimes it can take a while for a particular song or even an album to grow on you. You’ll probably change your mind, it happens often. After a few weeks I couldn’t even bring myself to enjoy this album ironically.
The first song is the title track Speed of Darkness. I had to listen to this track at a low volume. The sound of the overbearing guitar was giving me a headache. I mean that literally, if the volume is even moderately reasonable, it makes my head hurt. I thought that perhaps there was something wrong with what I was playing it on. Yet after one CD player, three MP3 players, and various applications on my computer, I determined that the issue was not with anything I was doing. Now, with that in mind, it’s one of the better songs.
The second track is considerably better. Songs like Revolution are what we expect from Flogging Molly. This is the undisputed best song on the entire album. The lyrics are good, the melody is great, and the experimental sound with the trumpet is what the rest of this album should have been like. This is probably going to be the song that you end up purchasing from your favorite MP3 store.
Now that Revolution has restored your faith in this album, after the ear beating you took from the title track, it’s nothing but a downhill avalanche after The Heart Of The Sea. With the exception of maybe “A Prayer For Me In Silence”, a duet with King’s wife Bridget Regan.
Onto the song that had everyone talking. Dont Shut Em Down was released as the first single. Most fans found themselves in a world of panic, while mainstream publications that can’t even properly defined the genre (Celtic punk folk Irish Rock Scottish Nigerian metal) gave it rave reviews. Go figure. If you ever find yourself having a conversation with a musical elitist that tells you unless a band drastically changes their sound every album they are terrible, please direct them to Don’t Shut Em Down. Firstly, let’s talk about King’s voice. I don’t know what he was trying to do, but it sounds like something that needs to be on a Johnny Logan tribute album and not a Flogging Molly record. People sometimes complain that Flogging Molly’s lyrics can seem pseudo-artistic. With the cookie-cutter radio play content that’s in Don’t Shut Em Down, those people will be longing for the days of Swagger.
The ballad The Cradle Of Humankind just doesn’t seem to want to end. Listening to this song is very tedious and tiring. The “is it over yet” feeling I get from the song reminds me of Bob Segers -Night Moves. Which triggers pretty severe post-traumatic stress in me. Song number six, So Sail On is exactly the opposite. It’s poorly written and very repetitive. I would post the lyrics for you to take a look at, but I’m afraid search engines might penalize the website for keyword stuffing. The phrase “so sail on” is repeated ten times in a two and a half verse song.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to evolve your sound and trying new things. Speed Of Darkness just doesn’t convince me that it’s Flogging Molly. I don’t know if it’s Los Angeles, the producers, radio, or a new fan base, but it just doesn’t feel sincere. I do know that Flogging Molly is much better than this. Hopefully this album is just a hiccup and not a harbinger of this current sound.