Speed of Darkness
Borstal Beat Records, 2011
Speed of Darkness may be my favorite Flogging Molly album since Drunken Lullabies. Both Within a Mile of Home and Float are fantastic albums, no doubt, but something about Speed of Darkness really caught my attention. To be fair, and this might turn many Flogging Molly fans away from this album, is that there is a certain slickness to Speed of Darkness that really sets it apart from previous albums, or from Flogging Molly’slive show. It is a well produced album, not over produced, but well produced and absolutely polished to gleaming shine.
One of the albums major influence in terms of lyrics and content is the economic crisis. The opening lines of the second track, “Revolution,” hammer home the point “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’s a solitary life when you’ve mouths to feed / But who cares about us?” Later in “Don’t Shut ’em Down” we have: “Tragic the pubs are all closing / The system is broken decay / Business is down at the Depot / Defenses are the only things built.” Even later in “The Power’s Out”: “Yeah the power’s out / Guess it’s par for the course / Unless you’re a blood sucking leech CEO, CEO.” I don’t really have to go on, a fair number of tracks deal with the theme. This sort of lyrical content makes sense, Flogging Molly of always been a sort of working man’s band and the plight of “common man” has always featured prominently in their lyrics.
Musically speaking I don’t think I’ve heard Flogging Molly sound better. This is a band that has really mastered their craft. There is such a broad range of instrumentation across the album with the majority of the band members switching instruments across songs. Dave King especially is at the top of his vocal game and there is a moment in “The Cradle of Humankind,” where he absolutely belts out a line, that really made me sit up and take notice. Bridget Regan, always talented on the fiddle, takes the lead vocals on “A Prayer for Me in Silence” and really she needs a chance to sing in the spotlight more often. It’d be a bit cliched to call her voice angelic but there is a certain soft and sweet quality to her voice the compliments the rough and powerful voice of King quite nicely. More please! Bob Schmidt gets a serious workout on the banjo, particularly on the more upbeat numbers, and really helps elevate many of the songs to the next level.
Speed of Darkness is a remarkably polished album that is equal parts uplifting and sobering. Flogging Molly is a band that continues to evolve and just keeps getting better and better while they do it. While not as aggressive as their early work Speed of Darkness manages to convey a broader range of emotion while maintaining a mass appeal. This is an album that will be in my rotation for quite a while to come and leaves me excited to see what Flogging Molly will draw their inspiration from next.