ABSOLON – Darkness Rising; The Tale Of Derek Blackheart (2022) *Exclusive*

ABSOLON - Darkness Rising; The Tale Of Derek Blackheart (2022) - full

“Darkness Rising ; The Tale Of Derek Blackheart” is the ambitious debut album from the Florida, US based outfit ABSOLON, a band / project that has been in founder Ken Pike’s mind for almost twenty five years. Singer / songwriter Ken Pike is a name well remembered fronting CCM hard rockers Malachia and cult AOR band Vital Signs back in the mid ’80s.
After listening Queensryche’s ‘Operation : Mindcrime’ Pike knew he had found his musical calling, and this is exactly what he has created in “Darkness Rising”, a concept album inspired by that ground-breaking masterpiece.
Another interesting thing about Absolon and their music is the presence of Dave Mikeal, guitarist of early ’80s Radio AOR oriented act MPG, who produces and also play keyboards here.

Despite both musicians previous musical background, Absolon and “Darkness Rising”, as said, are influenced by Queensryche, Crimson Glory, Siam and alikes.
Most definitely Operation:Mindcrime-era Queensryche.

So musically, Absolon delivers an album that has a feel very close to Mindcrime, but less glossy and not quite as high-tech, more towards ‘The Warning’ Queenryche. The sound is quite traditional eighties metal but not overly heavy as only half of the tracks are really ‘uptempo’, interspersed with short pieces rich in keyboards, pianos and synths creating a great atmosphere while telling the story.
Yes, the story, as “Darkness Rising” is concept piece of work subtitled “The Tale of Derek Blackheart”, based on the story of Derek Blackheart, a kid who dreams of being a heavy metal guitar legend. He sells his soul for the purpose and seals a deal with the Dark Master that would convert the masses to the ‘dark side’.
But at the height of his fame, Blackheart realises this is all wrong, and ultimately takes his own life in order to escape the deal only to discover that even in death there is no escape. No rest for the wicked…

The songs are split between traditional rockers with melodic hooks, atmospheric calmer tracks with keys and clean sharp guitars, and three short instrumentals.
Songs like “Nail Head” and “The Escape” are striking and infectious in sound mixing strong riffs and melodic keyboards, while title track “Darkness Rising” recalls to some Euro eighties melodic metal with interesting progressive twists.

These more rockin’ numbers are contrasted with mid.paced numbers such as “Pretender” and the highlight “Even Heros Fall”, the latter built around a clean electric guitar and piano, a bit dark and purposely introspective. It’s a fantastic song, like falling into a time warp in terms of comparing Absolon with Queensryche as an impeccable piece of elaborated progressive hard rock / metal.
There’s instrumental interludes including “The Master Calls” and “The Master Calls Reprise” both of which are fairly heavy in approach, as well as the acoustic based “State Of Mind”.

ABSOLON - Darkness Rising; The Tale Of Derek Blackheart - inside cover

“Darkness Rising ; The Tale Of Derek Blackheart” is a real surprise. Absolon decided to debut with a concept album, which always assumes a risk. But these talented musicians have created a more than a solid piece of work here.
An interesting story, varied songs and wonderful atmospheres in the ‘old skool’ style including a crunchy guitar work by the respectable Ed Dumas, marvelous keyboards & orchestration by David Mikeal and a trustworthy rhythm section.
Ken Pike is not a sky-high shouter ‘ala Geoff Tate in his heydays as he sings in a clean lower mid-range mode, however, he’s a top notch performer and vocalist as he manage to take the music to the next level.

In fact, I found the entire thing to be quite mesmerizing. The storyline, the musicianship, the vocals and the arrangements work really well together making for an enjoyable listen. For an indie recording, and considering the magnitude of this type of conceptual albums, there’s a very good production & mix.
Some could argue that “Darkness Rising ; The Tale Of Derek Blackheart” is like a second hand Operation:Mindcrime. ”Well, if someone would consider my disc as a second hand to a masterpiece, I’ll take it as a compliment” says Pike.
In our opinion Absolon has managed to create a sound and style that is all their own, yet a familiar one.

Are we impressed? Very much so as this could have been a top-selling album if released in 1987 and it’s certainly a very strong piece of work.
Highly Recommended


01. What Have I Done / The Beginning (2:19)
02. The Master Calls [instrumental] (1:59)
03. Nail Head (5:39)
04. Darkness Rising Interlude (2:02)
05. Darkness Rising (5:47)
06. Pretender (6:38)
07. Even Heroes Fall (3:29)
08. Devastation Suffocation (3:42)
09. The Escape Pt. I (2:45)
10. The Escape Pt. II (4:57)
11. Eulogy (2:50)
12. Breaking News (:42)
13. Screaming In The Dark (3:50)
14. State Of Mind [instrumental] (1:31)
15. The Master Calls Reprise [instrumental] (2:38)
16. Deaths Frozen Sting (5:56)

Ken Pike – vocals, guitar
Ed Dumas – guitar
Will Cochran – bass, backing vocals
Axel – drums, backing vocals
Dave Mikeal – keyboards



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