“The Dark Third” was the debut album by Pure Reason Revolution and it was an astounding slab of old school prog mixed with a pop sensibility along with a modern prog flair. So when a band named The Dark Third comes along, my first thought is that they will be influenced by that album. But the New Zealand band owes more to shoegazers Alcest and Junius than any modern prog band.
To be sure there are some elements of prog on “Even As the Light Grows” usually in the form of atmosphere, which is something I do enjoy in a band. They start off the first track “The Dreams of Lesser Men” with a long instrumental start including a very chaotic beginning. It’s not too long before I notice the problems. The band need to work on their transitions. They are WAY to abrupt and often don’t work.
The opening track includes what seems like random black metal blast beats that come out of nowhere. This seems to really try too hard to be blackgaze like Alcest rather than just allowing the song to do what it needs to do. It’s forced and the track changes direction at weird places. “These Things are Not Inherent” comes in so subtly that I thought it was still the first track. And there’s a sameness that creeps in with that song and “Erewhon.” They don’t stand out. They are good but no more.
Vocally, Daniel Hay is in tune but the breathy shoegaze delivery makes it SEEM like he has a very weak voice, as if he isn’t a good singer. It’s not til on a track like “The Regressor” that you can really hear his voice, not buried into the mix. He has a very good voice, you just don’t get to hear it much. The album closes with the quiet “Waking” and again, it’s a good song but not great.
There’s no points on “Even As the Light Grows” that blow me away. But there are good moments and it’s clear that the band are good musicians. Drummer Tim Doyle is good but should probably not do the blast beats for the sake of doing them. The mix is inconsistent as well. There are times the drums sound good and other times not so much.
How prog is it? Eh, at times it is and other times I would call this more indie rock. The instrumentation with some sax and violin make things more proggy but the prevailing vibe is more shoegaze and indie. I’ll be interested to see how The Dark Third grow. They have switched out some members since this album was recorded and change is good. It could make things interesting. So I’ll keep an ear opening for more by The Dark Third but for now, this is just okay for me.