Darko (US) – Dethmask Pt. 2 (EP Review)

Darko Dethmask Part 2 review

Darko (US)Dethmask Pt. 2
Released: December 30, 2022

Lineup:

Josh ‘Baby J’ Miller // Guitar & Drums
Tom Barber // Vocals

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It’s been just three short months since experimental deathcore duo Darko (US) released their sophomore  LP Oni. Since then, they’ve been teasing another release sooner than people may think and here we are with sophomore EP Dethmask Pt. 2 just a week after it was announced. In my recent album review I defined ‘Oni’, so it seems fair for me to do the same with the latest release.

Wikipedia describes a death mask as “a likeness (typically in wax or plaster cast) of a person’s face after their death, usually made by taking a cast or impression from the corpse. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mould.”

Of course, this isn’t Darko‘s first Dethmask release as their introduced themselves to the world in 2020 with their Pt. 1 EP, including tracks like ‘Elctric Body‘ and ‘Devine Void‘ feat. Darius Tehrani of SPITE, who Baby J joined after leaving Emmure. After this breakthrough EP, Darko infatuated the deathcore circuit with their releases following, packed with amazing features and gory music videos – worth playing catch up on their chronology in the Oni review.

With both Baby J and Tom Barber heading down to Aussie shores for Thy Art Is Murder‘s Decade of Hate Anniversary tour in just a couple of weeks (with Chelsea Grin & SPITE supporting alongside Whitechapel), it sure is curious for the two to be touring together, as there has not been a single Darko live show ever before. However, as usual – I digress. Let’s take a look into seven-track follow-up EP Dethmask Pt. 2.

UNMASKED‘ is where things begin with an ominous opening minute with complete mystery as to what’s  about to go down with some harmonic female cleans. Then those signature Miller drum beats hit and Barber does what he does best, bellowing into the mic with some support from Matt McDougal of Boundaries who released their Burying Brightness record earlier this year. McDougal is thunderous and complements Barber’s aggression idyllically, and delivers that sonic equaliser that makes the track. The production is immense with each tone sculptured with perfection to encapsulate the heaviness and intensity.

HYBRID PROCESS‘ is the next cab off the ranks and features Landon Tewers of The Plot in You. The suspense continues with eerie tones and darkened vocals slipping in and out with Darko‘s stop/start style. Barber is simply animalistic in between Miller’s experimental EDM tones that overlays a mysticism to the track, more explicit than the band’s back catalogue. With strong chaotic mathcore variables interwoven, they somehow manage to maintain a rhythm that a seasoned deathcore ear will appreciate, particularly with an extended breakdown blended by some perpetually heavy EDM. Tewers steps in after the mid-point with fury in his voice that carries large emotion before Barber syncs back in with Miller’s programming.

This delicious release then continues with ‘NUMB LOCK‘, a doomy-come-placid instrumental interlude, as we heard a bit of on Dethmask Pt. 1. FUTURE DOOM‘ is what feels like the mid-point of this Darko rollercoaster and it is just gorgeous. Instrumentally, the boys flare into a nu-metal EDM mayhem that screams The Prodigy x KoRn – and when you hear it, you’ll…. know. It’s what Miller’s been teasing for years as part of the creation process and this ‘all-in’ approach is finally here. The four-minute track has Barber transcend to testing levels vocally, unlike anything heard on Chelsea Grin, oh and just wait for that final groove that’ll have you bouncing.

A second interlude drops called ‘BUTCHERS BLOCK‘ and feels like a Better Call Saul TV series final season soundscape before something incredibly dramatic is bound to happen. Then we flick to ‘THE FLY AND THE BEE‘ with Miller’s blistering drums infiltrating from all directions and creating a bass-centric world. Barber takes a breath and then dives head-first into another ripping vocal section, before rapidly flowing into an otherworldly electro-induced black hole. Barber’s gutturals will redden your eyes and impact your pulse with its brutality.

This sequel EP ends with ‘LONE EXO‘, a piece produced by Ben Chalfant and has an epic energy about it that feels like a fitting closer. This third and final interlude has an EDM X-factor about it that’ll narrow your focus and leaving you feeling jealous of others who get to hear it after you for the very first time. It suddenly ends, and you realise how underrated this deathcore project really is.

After hearing Dethmask Pt. 2, it’s clear to see how important these tracks were to be released separately to Oni as they’re on a completely different wavelength. Miller’s taken experimental to a new level with the EDM factor and Barber’s just maxed his larynx and delivered ungodly noises. Lasting twenty-minutes, the  only downside to this EP is its duration, reinforced by the interludes – but this certainly  doesn’t take away from its mastery.

Darko Dethmask Part 2

Darko (US) Dethmask Pt. 2 tracklisting

1.UNMASKED feat. Matt McDougal of Boundaries
2.HYBRID PROCESS feat. Landon Tewers of The Plot in You
3.NUMB LOCK
4.FUTURE DOOM
5.BUTCHERS BLOCK
6.THE FLY AND THE BEE
7.LONE EXO produced by Ben Chalfant

Rating: 8.5/10
Dethmask Pt. 2 is out now. Grab it here
Review by Ricky Aarons (@rickysaul90)

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About Ricky Aarons (742 Articles)
Co-editor at Wall of Sound and self-acclaimed deathcore connoisseur. My purpose is to expose you to the best emerging breakdowns and gutturals that this planet has to offer.