New Sounds: The Long Dark Road
Artist: The Long Dark Road
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
At the time they recorded this four track, thirty-five minute album, Toronto-based The Long Dark Road consisted of three members of the Cavan family -- Jeremy Cavan on guitars/vocals, Rufus Cavan on bass, and Toby Cavan on drums -- and friend Vanin Ferall on guitar. After a brief trek across their native Canada in the late summer and fall of 2016, followed by the recording of this album, two of the members were unable to commit to any kind of continued touring, however, so Jeremy and Rufus have enlisted Liam Frith and Quin Henderson to round out the foursome going forward.
But the group who appeared on record pairs reasonably adept rhythmic skills with elementary but fitting lead guitar. The Long Dark Road’s music fits somewhere between gruff and ominous and atmospheric and inspiring -- though mostly gruff and ominous.
Primarily the brainchild of frontman, guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Cavan -- who has performed worldwide with bands Jerrycan, Sinister Trailerpark Magic, and (U) the band -- The Long Dark Road (the album) portrays the workings of a fairly creative mind, though heavily burdened by life’s trials and tribulations. The record actually plays out almost like some kind of opera, with thematic and lyrical nods toward (mostly) the aforementioned tribulations.
Jeremy’s vocals are throaty and emotive. To his credit, Cavan -- who admits to influences in the black metal and hardcore realms, among others -- chooses to step aside from the incessant screaming that passes for “singing” in most modern metal. He opts instead for a blend of techniques pulled from both hardcore and alternative rock, adding more impact and emotion to the overall message.
The lead-off track, “Tragedy of the Commons,” kicks in with overtones of Thin Lizzy (!!?) played as industrial metal. That opening eventually gives way to an almost 10-minute long opus that alternates between bludgeoning drop-tuned mayhem and “Oh-Look-We’re-Saved” moments. And then there’s the whole death part. I don’t mean the death metal part. I just mean the part that sounds like Death.
Then there’s “I Will Follow,” another opus clocking in at more than 8 minutes. This cut may capture the sound of utter desperation, especially the lengthy middle section, which quiets down to a single, introspective guitar cavorting, sonically, with serious depression. Lyrically, the song touches on the philosophical, and hints at a bit of religious confusion. Is there a God, or not, and is that idiot over there the one who will lead me to him?
Cavan continues his dark night of the soul with “The State of Our Union” which cuts off at a mere 7 minutes. Again a multi-movement musical statement that binds crisp snare drum riffing with layers of driving and droning guitars. Harmony vocals up the game a bit, but the overall tone continues on with the sense of frustration at life’s occasional peaks and, unfortunately, deep, dark valleys. Interestingly, the track breaks down at the end to a bass solo that hints at fingerstyle classical guitar.
The 10-minute finale is actually the album’s title track and the band’s namesake, “The Long Dark Road.” By now drummer Toby Cavan most certainly was close to breaking through the head of his snare drum, and probably had cymbal chips all over the floor around his kit.
To the band’s credit, it ain’t all just cartoonish hardcore though. About two minutes in, the tune breaks down to something reminiscent of early -- very early -- Pink Floyd, albeit just for a minute. Then it’s back to the grind, until a surprisingly cheery instrumental outro that completes the final six minutes of the song. Yes, a six-minute outro. But hey, that’s what several terabytes worth of ProTools tracking allows, right?
In the grand scheme of things, Jeremy Cavan -- the primary songwriter on the album -- has succeeded at blending multiple musical genres while sticking pretty close to a hardcore, black metal, or “blackened punk” mode. It’s an interesting mix, and well put-together.
In his bio, Cavan hints at the life influences that led to his writing The Long Dark Road, and they aren’t particularly pretty: poverty, joblessness, mental illness -- not unlike many of us, to be honest. Hang in there Dude. Hopefully this noteworthy project will bust him out of his rut and bring him and his bandmates some well-deserved notoriety.
The album release is scheduled for April 8, 2017. It can be previewed -- and purchased -- on the group’s Bandcamp page: