DARK SUNS

Progressive Metal / Metal Related / Death-Doom Metal • Germany
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Dark Suns is a German progressive metal Band, founded by Maik Knappe (guitar, backing vocals live), Niko Knappe (vocals, drums), Christoph Borman (bass) and Thomas Bremer (piano). The sound is a mix up of beautiful melodies backed up by a driving double bass, soft spacey passages, unique guitar sound, and great piano work. The 2002 album Swanlike features harsh vocals commonly found in the death metal genre, whilst these vocals were dropped for 2005's Existence.

Right after the release of "Existence" in February 2005 the band went on tour with Swedish Progressive Heroes Pain of Salvation for about 25 gigs all over Europe in April and September that year. It did not take very long and the fans got aware of the strength, warmth and naturalness of a Dark Suns Live show - on stage the songs get an immense power and one can get lost in the
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EverchildEverchild
Prophecy Productions 2016
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$17.33 (used)
OrangeOrange
Prophecy Productions 2011
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ExistenceExistence
Prophecy 2006
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Orange by Dark Suns (2012-01-31)Orange by Dark Suns (2012-01-31)
Prophecy Productions
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DARK SUNS Discography

DARK SUNS albums / top albums

DARK SUNS Swanlike album cover 3.72 | 5 ratings
Swanlike
Death-Doom Metal 2002
DARK SUNS Existence album cover 3.97 | 12 ratings
Existence
Progressive Metal 2005
DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine album cover 3.95 | 11 ratings
Grave Human Genuine
Progressive Metal 2008
DARK SUNS Orange album cover 3.88 | 4 ratings
Orange
Metal Related 2011
DARK SUNS Everchild album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Everchild
Metal Related 2016

DARK SUNS EPs & splits

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DARK SUNS Reviews

DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine

Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
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voila_la_scorie
I found Dark Suns while checking out progressive metal bands on iTunes. I don't remember which of their albums I sampled first, but I later read that their first album sounded a lot like Opeth, their second began moving away from that, and their fourth I listened to a bit and found it very jazz-influenced. This one made the biggest impression on me and so I ordered a CD from Amazon.

My experience with progressive metal is still somewhat limited; however, at times I was reminded of Tool's "Aenema" because of the slow heavy bombast of guitar chords, bass, and drums. Dark Suns shy away from catchy riffs or speedy trash sequences. Instead they often use the louder instruments (electric guitar, bass, drums) for deafening blasts of doom-heavy sonic assaults. The opening instrumental in part sums up much of the heavier parts of the album.

What makes "Grave Human Genuine" so interesting, though, is everything else that Dark Suns employs to create the music. You'll find piano, flute, bongo drums, electronic effects, acoustic and clean electric guitars, strings, synthesizer, and possibly more that I have missed. The band uses all these to create delicate and beautiful acoustic music with drums and bass, symphonic metal, haunting and lonely musical passages, and music by which to go mad. They also don't hold back and fire full volley when it suits them. Listen to the wonderful acoustic guitar/piano/bass/drums opening to "The Chameleon Defect" which abruptly turns into an auditory bombardment at a rate that can hardly be counted in beats per second. Though the general atmosphere is dark and there are no catchy melodies to sing in your head, the music is very intelligent if not experimental.

A few words on the vocals, Nico Knappe's vocals tend to be sung very delicately and softly, which can work wonderfully to contrast the dark heavy side of the music. Sometimes though I wish he would put a little more edge into his voice. At times I think his style bothers me a bit but other times I am okay with it. There are also death growl vocals placed to good effect but I don't know who is providing them. Also, Vurtox of Disillusion guests on a couple of tracks for spoken parts. It's interesting that I ordered Disillusion's "Back to Times of Splendor" at the same time as Dark Suns, discovering them during the same iTunes hunt.

The album is both diverse and cohesive. The approach to the dark heavy music doesn't vary much but there's so much else on there that the album doesn't get tiresome. If you are looking for more standard metal then this one might not please, but for something in a progressive vein, I think this is rather original among the prog metal albums I have heard so far.

I don't feel it quite deserves five stars but a very strong four stars.

DARK SUNS Existence

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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Sinkadotentree
I remember well how difficult it was for me to track this cd down at the time and i also remember the excitment of that first listen. This is one of those albums that seemed to be made just for me. DARK SUNS are from Germany and it seems like each album they put out is different from the rest. This one brings to mind bands like PAIN OF SALVATION, KATATONIA, GREEN CARNATION, OPETH and ANATHEMA. It's dark, emotional and atmospheric with some heaviness thrown in. This is a concept album about life("Existence") from birth("Zero") to death("One Endless Childish Day"). And while i usually would complain about how long this is(78 minutes) i simply can't this time. This is like taking a long, dark journey into another person's mind.

DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine

Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
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Sleeper
Dark Suns return with this, their third album Grave Human Genuine, and in doing so have given us an absolute gem. The shortest way to describe this album would be the beautiful melancholic atmosphere of Opeth's Blackwater Park mixed with the emotional impact of Pain of Salvation's The Perfect Element Part 1, a combination that creates something very much all of their own. The reference to Pain of Salvation is particularly relevant to this album as the bass player is none other than Kristoffer Gildenlow, former bassist for Pain of Salvation.

The album opens with the short instrumental Stampede which serves to give a distinct hint as to what is to come. Stampede flows into what is arguably the albums finest track, Flies in Amber, a track that shows greatly how the band create their sonic style here on Grave Human Genuine, by using the guitars and keyboards (Thomas Bremer being particularly fond of the MIDI flute sound that goes a long way to create the haunting atmosphere) to create a dark, melancholic and sometimes menacing, at others haunting, atmosphere whilst using the bass of Gildenlow and vocals of Nico Knappe, as well as the occasional guitar solo, to add the emotional impact that defines this album, though I'm not sure how Schmidt contributed additional rage to this song. The distinct quiet-to-loud build up that the band use is repeated, though most certainly not with any copy and paste repetition from Flies in Amber, through Thornchild and Rapid Eyes Moment using distinct compositional changes to avoid any chance of the songs sounding samey. Amphibian Halo is where they add a fair bit of experimentation with electronics, particularly with drum sounds and mixing them with acoustic drums in a similar way to King Crimson's more recent "observations". The (relatively) lighter atmosphere here makes this an enjoyable listen. The Chameleon Defect takes the ethos of light-to-heavy to extremes by using a very mellow, light-hearted and jazzy melody which comes to an abrupt halt and blasts into a cacophonous wall of thrashing metal riffs and pounding drums, before doing the same in reverse and starting over again before dropping the mellow factor further and fading out the song. For the last two songs of the album, Dark Suns perform an impressive feat of maintaining the dark and melancholic atmosphere without being particularly heavy AND without it feeling like you've just changed album. Free of You uses a beautiful melody that builds in intensity without really getting much heavier until the end and Papillon uses a string quartet to dominate the opening of the song before the band kicks in and finishes the album with a flourish.

Now, I'm not normally a fan of bonus tracks as, with the exception of live tracks, they tend to be songs that deserved to be cut from the final take, demo's, mildly interesting or just plain bad covers, radio edits and in the case of live tracks, sometimes they are poorly recorded. 29 does not fall into any of those categories, in fact its one of those very rare animals, a bonus track of very high quality. In itself it actually feels slightly different to the rest of the album as its not metal at all, instead its a very nice smooth, jazz rock number of a quality equal to that of the rest of the album, and most certainly doesn't stand out as being out of place. There are two final notes I'd like to make about this album before I finish, and they concern Kristoffer Gildenlow and drummer/vocalist Nico Knappe. Gildenlow makes a welcome return to the progressive metal world here, his first such album since Pain of Salvations BE, and in actual fact gives his best performance since Remedy Lane. His playing here is rather different to what he did for Pain of Salvation as he isn't supporting the intricate compositions of his brother, Daniel Gildenlow, but to a style that is unique to himself and adds brilliant depth to the atmospheres here. He adjust brilliantly and simply thrives in with the band, its a shame that he wont be a full time member (as far as I know). Knappe here has adjusted his vocal style to use far less of the growls that he did very well on the bands debut, Swanlike, even going as far as limiting them to a few lines on Flies in Amber, and instead gives a very delicate vocal delivery that proves that you don't always have to like the lyrics for them to be turned into poetry. This is not to belittle the other musicians on here, all of which gave excellent performances and lack nothing for skill, but I thought these two points needed mentioning.

From a band that started off as almost an Opeth clone, though an extremely good one, they have matured into their own identity here and produce one of the best albums of 2008.

DARK SUNS Existence

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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Sleeper
Dark Suns first album was a clear Opeth clone and for this band to gain any real recognition they would need to develop a style of their own. This is something they have taken to heart because in the two years between Swanlike and Existence there has been a complete change in direction for their music. The biggest change is that they have added a second major influence to the bands sound, that of Pain of Salvation, and worked hard to merge that with the existing influence of Opeth. The result is an album that has the bleak, dark, melencholic atmospheres of Opeth mixed with the emotional delivery and content of Pain of Salvation, or at least that is the clear aim on here. The reality is that they seem to have just fallen short of attaining that perfect blend. The atmosphere is there and so is the emotion but neither mix to a fully compelling degree and as a result the album can be seen more as a work in progress, a snapshot of where the band is developing from and too. I think the biggest reason for this is that the musical ideas on show here just seem to be stretched too far, motifs go one for too long and the impact that the band wanted is seveirly lessoned because of it .

Overall this isn't actually a bad album, there is plenty here to interest fans of progressive metal and there are numerous flashes of brilliance throughout the album, but there is also a case of too much music, not enough material as well that just drags down the experience of listening to it. Hilights for me are the extremely catchy "The Euphoric Sense", a song that I can never seem to shake from my memory, and the perfectly executed "You, A Phantom Still" and "Patterns of Oblivion". These last two songs are perfect examples of exactly what the band was trying to achieve here, an exquiset mix of atmosphere and emotion where the one feeds off the other. Unfortunatly there are a few lowlights to the album as well. Many of the shorter, earlier songs just feel unecessary to me and tracks 8 and 9 ("Gently Bleeding" and "Abiding Space") are good but aren't as fully realised as the aformentioned "You, A Phantome Still" and "Patterns of Oblivion". The final track is the big let down though, the longest song on here but it really shouldn't have been, it distinctly needs to be cut down by about 4 minutes because it vastly outstays its welcome.

A decent album, and one that shows a band developing into being something different, but fails to meet the full expectations set upon it. No one song on here can be pinpointed as terrible for they all have moments of greatness, but only a few hold that throughout their length. In the end though, it would be the next album, Grave Human Genuine, that fully realises this bands potential.

DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine

Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Negoba
Beauty in unexpected places.

This line is growled during the highlight track of the album, and it is an apt descriptor of this work. Ranging from unbelievable heaviness to floating melody, this indeed is an unexpected beauty.

When I first encountered Dark Suns as a recommended artist on internet radio, I had fairly low expectations. Opeth-lite with Tool thrown in was a common descriptor, but then I heard a longer selection on Franz Keylard's prog podcast, and I was impressed. In fact, I slowly bought up the tracks on iTunes until I now have the whole album and continue to recommend this as one of the better metal albums of the year 2008.

The standout track is "Flies in Amber" which starts with flute and a syncopated, complex-time riff and employs Nico Knappe's greatest helping of growls on the album. Present too are his childlike, unique clean vocals that really are Dark Suns signature element. These are featured most prominently on "Thornchild" which begins with an extended a capella section which includes lyrics "Take your spoon now, just taste my spine. Crunch it slowly..." I find the juxtaposition of the choir-boy tonality and the dark lyrics quite effective, and when the heavy section comes in, it makes perfect sense.

There are many standout moments on this album, including what may be the absolutely most heavy recorded moment of all time, during "Chameleon Defect," which simultaneously employs blast beats, gothic choir, and plenty of heavy guitar which I can only describe as standing outside during a soft-ball size hail storm.

Not everything works so powerfully, however. The electronic drums of "Amphibian Halo" aren't bad, but distract from the overall feel of the album. Similarly, "Papillon" is an overlong mood-piece that has spoken word passages. Again, not bad, but certainly a step down in an album that has its share of brilliant moments.

Since I first wrote this review, the album hasn't held quite the interest for me. It just doesn't draw me back that often. It's still quite strong and well worth the listen.

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