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Permission denied
by Asa Butcher
Issue 3
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Permission to Land
The Darkness
Warner Music, 2003
Throughout the history of music there have been albums that have changed the face of music and pushed the genre beyond its boundaries: The Beatles’ White Album, Nirvana’s In Utereo, Queen’s A Night At the Opera, The Eagles’ Hotel California, REM’s Automatic for the People, and countless more influential albums that have found a place in the public’s heart. Permission to Land by The Darkness is certainly not one of those.

While most contemporary bands are quite happy to rehash an old hit or two from yesterchart and line the original artists pockets with more royalties this band have taken a different approach. The Darkness have drawn heavily on the super rock bands of the past, such as Queen, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and KISS – not bad influences I hear you say – which is why it such a shame that the album stumbles through the darkness.

From Justin Hawkins’ opening pained warblings on ‘Black Shuck’ to the final track ‘Holding My Own’ he screams and wails throughout all ten tracks leaving anybody with a headache or migraine wanting to kill themselves by mid way. It is the castrato vocals that disappointed me and it was a crying shame because behind the screeching are some great melodies.

Justin also plays guitar, synthesizer and piano on the album, Ed Graham is on drums, Frankie Poullain plays bass and Justin’s brother Dan plays lead guitar. Together they have recreated the style of genuine rock that has slowly disappeared from the charts because so many people seem to believe it only belongs to mulleted, leather-clad, low I.Q. hardcore rockers. The band obviously loves their musical influences and has managed to recreate a cheesy genre but play without any tongues in cheek.

Each of the ten tracks does offer something different, different isn’t necessarily good, but different nevertheless. The opening track ‘Black Shuck’ promises to offer some real rock but then comes crashing down around our ears when Justin opens his mouth, while the next track ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ allows packs of dogs to howl in unison. Track three ‘Growing On Me’ could be as close to a love song as The Darkness get but with lyrics like, “I won’t have a life until you’re dead” but I’m still in two minds.

Following the same music industry standard for every album, track four was the first track released as a single and is perhaps its one redeeming feature. It has a sing-along chorus, à la Bon Jovi, and the video that accompanied it was a real homage to Peter Frampton and his open-chested catsuit with tight leather trousers.

‘Love is Only A Feeling’ slows the pace down and allows Justin to sing within the human hearing range and the following track, ‘Givin’ Up’, features the subject of heroin abuse and the rather pleasant line, “I’d inject into my eyes.” ‘Stuck In a Rut’ provides Dan to get in on the action and perform some Slash-like guitar that will send air guitarists everywhere into fits of ecstasy, which is followed by ‘Friday Night’ which is actually quite a nice song and I am unsure how it ended up on this album.

Just as some doubt was beginning to enter my mind over the quality of Permission to Land the penultimate track ‘Love On the Rocks With No Ice’ kicked off and we plummeted straight back into Screechville: Population Dan Hawkins. The final track ‘Holding My Own’ wasn’t offensive and wasn’t a classic, it just signalled that the end of a mere 40 minutes of aural torture was in sight. The Darkness could be the antidote to the sugary crap dealt out by the pop ponces, sorry, princes and princesses but they need to turn the treble knob down and move into the light.

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