Album Reviews

Dark Design – Prey for the Future Review

dark design_cover

Released by: Heaven and Hell Records

Release Date: September 10th, 2013

Genre: Progressive Metal



Line Up:

Andrew Bertrand-Vocals

Mike Joyner-Guitars

Matt Mercer-Bass, Backing vocals

Ray Lewis-Guitars, Backing vocals

Robbie Mercer-Drums, Backing vocals



1. In Medias Res 01:48

2. Dark Design 05:13

3. No Death 05:17

4. Abiding Contempt 05:24

5. Welcome to Your (Doom!) 05:56

6. Dragonmount 06:47

7. Meditations 04:41

8. Spice World 07:56

9. Dust in the Wind (Kansas cover) 04:39

Total playing time: 47:41


An American band Dark Design was founded in 2008. Most musicians are not novices, guitarist Ray Lewis and Mercer brothers: Robbie (drums) and Matt (bass) played together in the late 80s in various local bands. Second guitarist Mike Joyner and singer Andrew Bertrand joined the band and the current line-up was formed. In early 2011, the band began recording its debut album “Prey for the Future” which they finished in 2013. The album will be released on September 10th, 2013 by Heaven And Hell Records.

The band plays technical Power Thrash Metal with solid Progressive Metal elements. Music is complex, with a lot of changes of rhythms and melodies, there are many long awesome guitar solos that are technical and interesting. Vocals are very good, Andrew Bertrand has a mighty voice with a wide range and could easily sing higher or rougher. Rhythm section is also skilled, bass and drum parts are varied and invented.

But the main basis of the music could be a derivative of the  Iron Maiden legacy. Yes, Dark Design is heavier and usually faster however the Maiden roots are obvious. The band uses elements of US and European Metal School, dark riffs and Thrash influences are closer to Iced Earth and Metallica but some guitar melodies can be referenced to Running Wild or Helloween. Nevertheless the band has its own face.

The first part of album is more Power Metal-influenced: “Dark Design” is a fast Power Metal song with nice guitar solos and some epic touches; “No Death” has some Speed Metal moments (which reminds me Helloween “Metal Invaders”), but there are many tempo changes and heavy riffings; “Abiding Contempt” starts with intensive drumming, contains some dashing melodies closer to Running Wild and dark riffs with occasional growls ala Iced Earth tradition.

The next songs are much heavier, Thrash Metal elements became dominant. “Welcome to Your Doom” is slower and heavier, the beginning reminds me “Eye of Beholder” by Metallica, the song includes some oriental elements and fuzzy Prog Thrashy riffs. “Dragonmount” is fast again with consistent drumming, I could mark a wonderful shredding solo and with some nodes to Iron Maiden.

The music became more complicated with some Technical Thrash elements. Track “Meditations” has impressive guitar melody at the beginning, then solid dark riffs, jolly Running Wild-like chorus, epic part and several beautiful solos with harmonic twin guitars. I enjoyed this number quite a bit.

But the most complex song is “Spice World”. I hear some Mercyful Fate influences, middle-eastern melodies under heavy progressive riffing, a lot of rhythmical changes and irregular riffs, half-acoustic oriental part and growl back vocals. Once again I should highlight an excellent solo. I like this track more than all previous ones, it is awesome.

However the main surprise comes at the end. I supposed that “Dust in the Wind” should be a Kansas cover and I was not mistaken. I also thought that it was chosen as a soft and calm ending of the album. But after well-known acoustic intro I unexpectedly discovered faster metallic version of this song. It is amazing how the musicians could manage to not ruin this song keeping all its tragic and expression. The fantastic emotional vocal uniquely combining tender and rough is also perfect. The band has not only carefully kept all nuances of the original version but the musicians could also develop it performing its new original variant. A superb cover of an immortal song, I am impressed very much, it is one of the best covers I’ve ever heard.

So the album is worth listening to. But it has considerable problem – a weak sound and unbalanced mixing. It has not enough power, it is too dull, low frequencies could sound tougher and louder but high notes are too emphasized here. However all instruments are clearly recorded but the general perception is far from perfect. But actually it is the only significant flaw here.

Nevertheless “Prey for the Future” is a decent debut, it could be interesting to all fans of Progressive Power Thrash Metal.


Written by Egor “EG Power”

Ratings    Egor    9/10


Tell Us How You Feel