Few bands operate with the same level of mystique as Tragedy. The band prepared this new album, their fourth, without the typical fanfare and hype that precedes a full length sure to be met with the excitement Darker Days Ahead will undoubtedly stir. In fact, even the tour that now seems apparently planned in support of this newest release was all but kept under the radar, with most people only finding out about a tour at all from the announcement of a show near them.
So why all the secrecy and avoidance of the notoriety they’ve clearly earned over the years? Honestly, this probably fuels the cult-like following of rabid fans Tragedy has worldwide that spans many subcultures and admittedly keeps even me interested in what they keep offering up. Fortunately for all of us, Darker Days Ahead is equally as illusive a musical outing as the band themselves. In fact, this might just be the release the band needed to put out to keep even their most diehard followers on the hook.
As the music of album opener “No Cemeteries Here” fades in, it’s hard not to expect the next in a long line of now-classic Tragedy first track anthems that quickly erupt with an urgency that gets the blood boiling. And while “No Cemeteries Here” does deliver that epic, crushing first punch (but only after more than a minute of teasing), this first song hints at something different to come too. When the second song “Close At Hand” gets going, what ultimately becomes apparent about the album starts to show: these new songs stray fairly far from Tragedy’s d-beat roots, instead opting for more grandiose movements that feel almost like the score to an apocalyptic tale. Third song “The Grim Infinite” continues in this same manner, clocking in at nearly 6 minutes in length and stomping through over half of the song before the first vocal contributions appear. You get the picture… this is definitely not what anyone is expecting.
Darker Days Ahead marks a decidedly different approach, something that a band on their fourth full length (and especially after such a lukewarm response to their last album, Nerve Damage) probably needed to do. Anyone who has loved Tragedy’s flare for the dramatic, sprawling riffage will probably embrace this slower, more tromping sound, while those who’ve worn a ring in their bedroom carpet circle pitting to Tragedy’s previous releases will likely be a little bored. Nevertheless, Tragedy have made it clear they still have some tricks up their sleeves and Darker Days Ahead is just the surprise none of us were expecting but needed to hear.