It’s been about a half a decade and two previous band members— Paolo Roberto Simoni on guitar and Stefano Lepidi behind the drums—since Holy Martyr dropped their last record Invincible.Going purely on aural intake, it’s evident that there’s a concept that’s being built by the contents of Darkness Shall Prevail. The subject matter comes from the band’s admiration for English author J.R.R. Tolkien. Sonically, it’s not always so obvious that it sounds like it could hypothetically play as a companion piece, which is a good thing.
Though Holy Martyr would likely be called a ‘power metal’s band, there are a lot of modern power metal calling cards that’re foregone, giving Darkness Shall Prevail a freshness some might consider much needed. Rather than the anthemic epics doled out over and over again, Holy Martyr takes a less traveled path that is sometimes more reminiscent of American icons like Manilla Road, Twisted Tower Dire, Ashbury et al, giving the album a heavy presence of doom metal interspersed throughout.
After an anticipation-builder of an intro with “Shores of Elenna,” “Numenor” leads the charge and manages to provide an impeccable example of what Darkness Shall Prevail is set to offer. While the guitars are appropriately epic in their lean melodies and soloing, the standard shred sessions are substituted with cohesive structural changes within the songs, giving us something a little fresher to look forward to. Once the record arrives at “Darkness Descends” you see just how much Nicola Pirroni’s bass presence carries the overall sound, as it segues into “Taur Nu Fuin.”
Darkness Shall Prevail demonstrates just how integral some American power and doom metal bands have become on an international level. Holy Martyr have found a winning team with their new line-up. Should their future releases exhibit such willingness it integrate such definitive musical persuasions, they’ll likely find increasingly larger audiences in the coming months and into the years. – Sean Reiter