CD Review: Flogging Molly / Speed of Darkness
Reviewed by: Ryan Labbe
Irish-American Celtic punk band Flogging Molly recently released Speed of Darkness, their fifth studio album. Produced by Ryan Hewitt (Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Avett Brothers), Speed of Darkness runs the gamut from straight up punk rock songs and mid-tempo acoustic numbers to blue collar anthems, infused with banjos, fiddles, and accordion delivered by main man Dave King and his all-star supporting cast of Bridget Regan, Dennis Casey, Matt Hensley, Nathen Maxwell, Bob Schmidt and George Schwindt.
The title track opens the album, a fast-paced punk rock song that brings distorted guitars, and fast drumming together with the banjo and accordion. It has a memorable riff, great lyrics, and combines all the elements that give Flogging Molly their identity. “Bury me in silence for I’ll never hear the truth,” sings King, with just a hint of Irish brogue. “My coffin will be empty cause you’ll never steal my youth.” An album’s opening song should be one to grab the listener’s interest and make them want to continue on. “Speed of Darkness” accomplishes that easily.
“Revolution” is an up-tempo tale of the blue collar workers that speaks to the fragility of our economy, corporate greed, and rise of unemployment. “I spent twenty-seven years in this factory/And the boss man says, ‘hey you’re not what we need’ /The penguins in the suits they know nothing but greed.” It has a catchy chorus, and even better, it’s lyrically relevant, which is refreshing and not something you always find these days.
Likewise, “The Power’s Out,” echoes a similar sentiment, as the music marches towards the song’s apex, with an accordion and banjo providing the riff. “From the town of Detroit where my job is secure yeah/Secure in the fact now that it’s gone for good yeah,” sings King in the first verse. The chorus is a powerful, sing-a-long, “Yeah the power’s out/Is there no luck in sight?/Yeah the power’s out/Hope it’s just for the night” I can imagine “The Power’s Out” translates well into a live setting.
“This Present State of Grace,” begins with an acoustic guitar, and is accompanied by Hensley’s accordion playing softly in the background. Soon after, Maxwell joins in on bass. Complete with hand-claps providing some percussion, this is one of my favorite songs, with compelling instrumentation and lyrics. “Cause only life, yeah only life has loneliness to sell” sings King, “So celebrate, yeah live your life, live it and raise hell” My first thought when I heard this song was that it could be an acoustic standard at any Irish bar.
Other highlights include…the rest of the album. From the slow, piano driven “The Cradle of Humankind” to rockin’ “Saints and Sinners, to the anthemic closer, “Rise Up,” an optimistic call to arms, Speed of Darkness is an eclectic offering, where every song sounds a little different, but together comprise a wonderful album.
The manner in which Flogging Molly incorporate punk rock and folk music with meaningful, compelling lyrics, and give everything an Irish flavor, is unique and makes Flogging Molly, and Speed of Darkness, in particular, worth listening to.
Check out our gallery of photos below from Flogging Molly’s last Boston appearance in February: