North Carolina’s Dark Design play melodic thrash metal. Their full-length studio CD is titled Prey for the Future (Heaven and Hell Records), This debut CD taps into the band’s roots in traditional rock, culminating in a cover of Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.”
The CD consists of the cover, as well as a short acoustic intro that complements the cover and seven compositions. The intro is worth a mention, as it intertwines two guitars effectively, an element that comes into play when the band is thumping at full throttle. The cover has been given a “thrash” treatment without losing the essence of the song’s melody, so it’s definitely worth a listen.
The centerpiece of Dark Design is its guitars, courtesy of Ray Lewis and Mike Joyner. Some tracks emphasize melody, such as “Welcome to Your Doom” (with some nice bass licks) and the title track, whereas other songs tap into a more aggressive approach, such as “No Death” (which sounds like something out of Iron Maiden [http://www.ironmaiden.com/])” and “Dragonmount” (which opens with an audio sample of the flick Excalibur).
Vocalist Andrew Bertrand uses an approach more at home in power or epic metal, his powerful lungs giving the band a distinct NWOBHM snarl and pulse. Complementing this approach is the rhythm section of bassist Matt and drummer Robbie Mercer. The drums have a solid rhythmic vibe, and Matt’s bass manages to distinguish itself from the guitars rather than shadow them.
The dueling nature of the guitars is also a key characteristic of NWOBHM, but Dark Design take on a more technical approach, one that benefits from thrash metal. There are moments where one guitar sets down a rhythm and the other takes the lead, but the juiciest bits are when the guitars exchange leads, intertwining at will with complementary yet contrasting melodies.
Thrash metal fans looking for something that is technical but does not sacrifice melody should check out Dark Design’s Prey for the Future. The speed and heaviness warrants multiple listens, as this band has what it takes to make music that simply sounds good, powerful, and fresh while paying homage to those who have come before.