When Jam With RoBina, an acoustic band from Pontypridd tweeted me requesting a review of their latest album, I knew it would be an interesting and original listen. Back in September, I saw the band live amongst many others at the International Showcase of Surface Festival at the Indig02. They were one of the bands who stood out for me, as they weren’t generating the same tinny or dirty rock that everyone was. Merging the whimsical with simplicity, they’re not a particularly showy band although there is plenty of production to Dark Recollections.
It begins with a soft Welsh accent adopting a fairytale style voice and reeling off a poetic speech about an epic journey through the record. A demonic vibe floats through the campfire-esque rhyme The epilogue of the album uses the same Celtic riff and finishes it off by telling the listener that they now have a choice of whether to go forward or back, having been a part of the story. It’s a really innovative function on the album and the listener to feel that they’ve been a part of something strange and not altogether explainable.
Many of the tracks on the album have the magical element within the riffs such as Forbidden Wood, Miracle and Epic Mother. Simple riffs and enchanted chimes within the sound give a fantastical impression, which really captures the listener’s imagination. Indeed most of the tracks on the first half of the album take on this form. Spirit Of Fire, Silhouettes and Without You have dark edges to them but they are ultimately upbeat with a slightly poppier slant. Americana meets Celtic appears to be a theme in the guitars, which adds to the fresh uptempo feel. There is a bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come in the form of The Damned, which certainly has a noticeably darker feel than the other tracks that surround it.
That’s not to say that the transition between the first, more friendly, half and the second, more ominous half of the record. In fact, it’s a pretty mixed bag all the way through and by the time you get to tracks such as Lunatic and Sons Of Odin, there’s already been plenty of threat in the undertones of the previous tracks. Lunatic is a slow and haunting track, which has a definite moonlit quality. Constant references to the moon remind the listener of the resemblance between the word lunatic and the word lunar, as the singer appears to be recounting a gradual descent into madness. With a catchy hook and a spooky atmosphere surrounding it, it’s definitely a track that stands out.
Epic Mother continues the spooky theme with ghostly vocals and ethereal ripples. A definite space feel covers it and an attack from forces stronger than our own appears to be imminent. Funk enters the frame around the four minute mark, amping the song up a little but it simply creates a kind of drum roll to the climax of rising fears of what is about to happen. It all comes to a head in the seven minute long Sons Of Odin, which is packed full of upbeat joy marred with the dark side of magic. The vocals appear to become possessed around the four and half minute point and they take on a kind of alien tone. A folksy intro with beats that could be horses’ hooves ascend into a song which conjures up a battle between the good and the evil, resulting in an acoustic version of an early Avenged Sevenfold record.
Dark Recollections is a Tolkien-esque fantasy, which includes the very best of traditional magic and folk tales. As a big fan of magical stories, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the genre shine through a series of awesome songs and genuinely felt a little spooked and enchanted by the tracks on this album.