Album Review: Flogging Molly – “Speed Of Darkness”

The first thing that I want to say about this CD is that it is SO MUCH BETTER than I thought it would be. You see, Flogging Molly is one of my all time favorite bands. I first saw them in concert back in 2000 and since then I’ve seen them live nine additional times. I’ve bought all their CD’s and my wife and I listen to them constantly. I own seven different t-shirts (my wife has two) and we even have a framed autographed poster of the band hanging up next to our television. But after listening to the song “Don’t Shut ‘Em Down” my expectations for “Speed Of Darkness” were pretty low. Don’t take that as me saying that the song is bad, it just wasn’t was I was hoping to hear from Flogging Molly. Vocally, it doesn’t really even sound like Dave King and musically it sounds more like something from the early 80’s than it does an Irish punk song. I actually liked the track but I didn’t think I was going to enjoy an entire album of that style of music and since that was the first single released from “Speed Of Darkness” I figured that was the direction Flogging Molly was heading in.

Now that I’ve listened to the CD several times, my worries have been proven unnecessary. “Speed Of Darkness” is an album that went way beyond anything I was hoping for and actually turned out to be the band’s most musically diverse album yet. Lyrically, many of the songs are about the same topic, (the downfall of the American economy) but that in no way hurts the album. It actually helps hold the whole thing together and turns a group of songs that are at times very different musically into a cohesive album.

“Speed Of Darkness” has a little something for every Flogging Molly fan out there so I’m going to go ahead and give you little break down of each song so you can see what I mean.

The first song, “Speed Of Darkness,” is an upbeat number with a sound similar to the songs found on “Drunken Lullabies” and “Swagger”. It features the band rocking out in full Flogging Molly punk style and is the first of several songs about our economical demise.

“Revolution” a song about being laid off and actually sounds like it could have been recorded by the Street Dogs.  The traditional Irish instruments are used in the song but they’re not as up front as they usually are. Also, it features a horn solo.

“The Heart Of The Sea” is the first slow song on the disc. It’s a cool track that features the accordion pretty heavily. This is another song on which Dave King’s vocal sounds different. To me, the highlight of this song is the angry, bluesy vocal he uses towards the end of the song.

“Don’t Shut ‘Em Down” is the fourth song on here and as I said earlier, I liked the song enough on its own but after hearing it as part of the full album, I think I like it more. It’s another of the “bad economy” songs.

“The Power’s Out” is an awesome, lo-fi blues song. It sounds like it was recorded in an empty bar at four in the morning. It features the usual instruments plus what sounds to me like a slide guitar. This is definitely one of my favorites on the disc.

“So Sail On” sounds like a very old traditional Irish tune. It features some nice harmonies in the chorus and a fiddle solo. The song has a feel like someone is singing it before they die. slightly similar to “Far Away Boys” from the “Swagger” CD.

“Saints And Sinners” comes next. This song starts out with a bass line that reminded me of The White Stripes before jumping into a punky Irish song. This one has a familiar Flogging Molly sound but again, has a bit of blues throw in it. The heavily distorted guitar that pops up a couple of times is really cool and the “La, la, la” part towards the end adds a gypsy feel to the track.

“The Present State Of Grace” renews the economic theme of the album. Musically, this one is based around an acoustic guitar and features the fiddle and some very nice vocal harmonies. With the “woo-hoos” in the background, this is another song that has the feel of being recorded in an empty bar in the middle of the night.

“The Cradle Of Human Kind” features a piano and actually has a Billy Joel feel to it. It definitely has a more American singer/songwriter sound than it does an Irish sound. But still I like it and it’s not something that we’ve heard from this band before and what happens at about 3:35 or so into the song is cool.

“Oliver Boy (All Of Our Boys)”. This song is my absolute favorite on the CD. It starts out sounding like you are listening to some old, dusty vinyl recording before bursting into full-on Flogging Molly attitude and swagger. Lyrically, this is an anti-war song (which still ties into the economy theme that runs through the CD). I’m looking forward to hearing this song live next time I see them.

“A Prayer For Me In Silence”, on this song Dave sings a duet with Bridget Regan (Flogging Molly’s fiddle player, who is also his wife). She sounds amazing on this song (he does too) and after hearing this, I wish she’d sing more often. The only bad thing about this song is that it is too short at only about two minutes. I wish it was more like four or five minutes.

“Rise Up” is the closer of the disc and it has its upbeat angry parts (as any song called “Rise Up” should) but the overall feeling of this song is of hope. This is the song that basically says “things kinda suck right now, but they will get better” and it’s a very good closer to the album. Another of my favorites from “Speed Of Darkness.”

Flogging Molly have once again blown me away with this new album! If you are a FM fan anyway, whether it’s the upbeat punk stuff, the traditional Irish songs or the slower tracks, they are all featured on “Speed Of Darkness” so I suggest you purchase this disc as soon as it becomes available (May 31st) and hear this masterpiece for yourself!

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  • Wow, just listened to the whole album, and had exactly the same feeling as you… way way above expectations based off Don’t Shut ‘Em Down in isolation.

    Glad to see another diehard fan feels as I do about this album, if only they’d come to Australia again, I managed to completely miss them last time around.

    Jeremy Stacks Reply:

    I’m glad you liked the album. I didn’t get to see them live this year either, they usually come through my area around St. Patrick’s day but this year they skipped Cleveland, Ohio. They are playing a gig this summer but I’ll be out of town so I’ll miss that one too. Damn!

  • Same here. After hearing Don’t Shut Em Down so much by itself I started to hope for the best and expect just OK, but I am so glad I was wrong. From beginning to end, it’s solid.

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