Sometimes, a group comes to your attention so early in their existence that they still have that ‘New Band Smell’. You might still find the occasional polystyrene packing chip caught in a fold, and a few little plastic screen protectors waiting to be peeled off here and there. And this is the case with German quintet, Darwin. Their Facebook page only came into being in November 2018, their first live show is booked for late January, and they have just released their debut EP, with the rather zeitgeisty name #DRWN.
So we may only have about twenty minutes of material to play with right now, but these five songs showcase a considerable amount of promise, suggesting that Darwin have hit the ground running. You can insert your own jokes about them being a natural selection here. They also appear to have a serviceable motto in the form of ‘Stay Angry’, which is about as succinct a definition of their no-nonsense approach as anyone is going to manage.
First track “Firebreather” launches itself headlong into its opening riff from the off, with no time for pleasantries like an introduction or a few moments of scene-setting atmospherics. This is, again, an indication that Darwin are not messing about. Sitting in the borderlands between metallic hardcore and groove metal, it’s possible to hear elements of Vision of Disorder, a bit of Will Haven when the tempo drops and early, thrashy Machine Head when it ramps up again. There’s also a spoonful of Meshuggah evident, but more in the lead guitar lines and Jesper’s vocal delivery than the djenty reasons their name is usually invoked. More contemporary peers would be Euro riffers like Promethee or Kruger, along with the more straightforward bands one might find on a Euroblast bill.
Neatly, whilst “Firebreather” is uptempo, second track “Home” is a slower affair, and then third track “Judas” brings together both sides of that coin in a longer track, which is probably the stand-out of the five. It shows that the band are as comfortable painting on a broader canvas as they are standing on your chest and beating you in the face with a plank. Which is nice. There’s a pleasing immediacy to the riffs and refrains and satisfying payoffs in the songwriting, to the extent that if you are not joining in with the final repeat of “I am the cleansing the world never asked for” that constitutes the coda of “Firebreather”, then Darwin probably will not be for you.
Of course, it is very early days for the band and as such there are a couple of growing pains to be worked on and refined. I don’t, for example, imagine “Off” will hang around in their live setlist for long as they continue to write. But, at the same time, it is clear that these guys know what they are doing, and any rough corners are likely to be rounded over relatively quickly. Obviously, it’s still far too early for the band to be considering things like touring, so it may be a little while before anyone outside of their native cities Cologne and Hamburg gets to see them play. Nevertheless, I fully expect the transition of these songs to the stage to be a successful one, and that Darwin will be a name worth keeping your eye on in 2019. #DRWN is available from Darwin’s Bandcamp page here https://drwnband.bandcamp.com/album/drwn