Even As the Light Grows in the debut album release from Auckland, New Zealand progressive rock band The Dark Third. Formed originally in 2013 by vocalist and songwriter Daniel Hay, their first release was the single Erewhon which came out in 2016. I first heard the single in early 2017 and after seeing that an album was in the works was instantly curious to see what the band could create. In their short existence The Dark Third has gone through a few line-up changes including during the recording of Even As the Light Grows and currently consists of five members.
Brought forward by the sombre and melancholic vocals of Hay, the album has all the hallmarks of traditional progressive rock combined with art rock aesthetics of saxophone and violin performed by Alika Wells and Grace McKenzie respectively. Influences of progressive rock from the 2000s is prevalent, which is unsurprising considering that the band’s name derives from a 2006 album by Pure Reason Revolution. I have seen other critics theorise that there is strong inspiration from British band Anathema’s progressive side. Although I did not pick up on it initially, I tend to agree. The style of progressive rock that Anathema played in that period is a successfully emulated by this album much to my enjoyment. Some parts of the album are almost shoegaze-like, creating a wall-of-guitars soundscape which you can just sink into.
Fitting in strongly with the traits of progressive rock, the first track of the album, The Dreams of Lesser Men clocks in at an impressive 13:25. The song has a dynamic mix of hardness and softness which permeates throughout the rest of the album. As the track progresses and evolves, there is a good flow. At times I found the blastbeat drumming of Tim Doyle found in the track and some of the others to be off-putting and failed to fit in with the rest of the instrumentation. The drumming on the album as a whole is probably the weakest instrumental component although that is not to say that it is poor. Rather, it is just there. The other lengthy song of the album, The Regressor, is of a similar quality but perhaps lacks some memorability.
The sole single of the album, These Things are Not Inherent is my personal favourite track. The vocals are at their best here, the sound is easily accessible and the song certainly has all the elements to reach a wide appeal. The piano element is also outstanding in its craftsmanship. The re-recording of Erewhon for the album is executed exceedingly well, adding saxophone and violin heard in other parts of the album to the forefront which brings another layer of energy to the song.
Even As the Light Grows is an album where the sum of the whole is collectively better than the individual parts. The flow from track-to-track on the album is seamless and thus best enjoyed by listening to the whole thing. For a debut album, The Dark Third have managed to deliver a refined and polished performance with clear direction and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for the future.