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The Darkness
One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back
Atlantic Records
· Produced By: Roy Thomas Baker

· Running Time: 35.29

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released: WORLD

· Musical Style: Melodic Rock

· Links: The Darkness
85%
Songs: 80%
Sound: 90%
There is an element of The Darkness' fanbase which proclaims the band as the all conquering saviours of rock n roll. Then there is the opposing side, which thinks the band is nothing but an over hyped one-trick pony.
The truth lies somewhere in between. No one can argue the fact that the band are putting melodic rock n roll back into the charts, but little flow on effect for other artists can be expected due to the gimmicky nature of their style.
That gimmick – the falsetto vocals of frontman Justin Hawkins – has seen them sell a truck load of records in the UK and even achieve success in the difficult to penetrate US market.
But the vocal controversy alone has not sold the band to the masses. That aspect merely opened doors for them in attracting media attention and the support of a record label. At the heart of the matter, the band writes very catchy rock songs.
But they do tend to overplay the importance of the vocal gimmick, making this album impossible to appreciate for those that just can't get past Justin Hawkins' unique style.
The breakthrough debut Permission To Land was ok – it contained a few great songs, a few which were overrun with falsetto vocals and a few fillers.
This is an important album for the band as they have to prove to everyone they are capable of living up to the hype a second time around.
Teaming up with legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker was the band's best move. I think the combination of some strong material and a slight change in approach has made this a better and more enjoyable album. It follows the formula of the debut, but impresses more so as I for one have had a lot of time to live with that album and better understand the band.
Baker is best known for his work with Queen and as we all know, Freddy Mercury was the king of camp over the top vocals, although it certainly wasn't his only trick. Freddy had it all.
But in this case, Baker has helped Justin Hawkins to better focus his talents and has helped add extra flair to the songs. He goes more over the top than ever, but in most cases when it is needed rather than all the time.
And in some parts, he actually tones down the falsetto to deliver a great regular vocal.
While the debut album played up to an AC/DC style of riffing hard rock, One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back cashes in on Roy Thomas Baker's experience with Queen.
There are so many Queen-isms within this album which will no doubt fire up debate further. Which ever side of the fence you are on - not too many British rock bands in this day and age get a worldwide simultaneous CD release.
Track By Track:
In typical piss-taking fashion the grand intro of the album features a short panpipe solo, before getting underway with the lead single One Way Ticket. You couldn't ask for much more from a lead single. Solid riff – big chorus – those vocals!
Knockers is one of the examples of Justin reigning in his voice for the benefit of the song. The chorus vocal is totally over the top and features a fully fledged wail, but the verse is subtle and melodic – to great effect.
Is It Just Me mirrors the style of Growing On Me from the debut – a big swaggering rocker with a tight groove and one of those over the top falsetto filled choruses. It's all good fun and the guitar soloing has a certain Brian May flair.
Dinner Lady Arms is another example of restraint and is possibly the band's most melodic track to date. I think I actually prefer the verse, which sees Justin singing quite soulfully, over the more dramatic chorus but in any regard, the song should rate highly with fans.
Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time is the first of two big ballads and is the first where the famous Roy Thomas Baker / Queen orchestration comes into play.
Flamboyant vocals throughout, the song features lush orchestral moments and should be the next single from the album. Another hit I have no doubt. Hazel Eyes probably represents everything that some people hate about this band. Subtlety be dammed! Add over the top vocals, bagpipes, guitar solos and marching drums please sir! Funny…catchy, but not a song that can be played all the time.
Bald is one of the band's darker and more aggressive songs to date and again plays down the vocals (just a little). It makes a nice balancing track between two quite insane tracks.
Girlfriend on the other hand – is totally the opposite, with those vocals all over the track, not to mention horns and a very pop style.
This is where the album starts to loose me – just as happened with the debut, as there is only so much over the top falsetto vocalling one can take.
English Country Garden continues this trend, but of interest is the massive Queen styled harmony vocals and musical arrangement the track has.
The album closes with the second big ballad. Blind Man is even more over the top than the first ballad and once again features a huge Queen styled vocal harmony. It's musically interesting – even if thoroughly ripped off from Queen, but is more over the top for the sake of it than actually being a heartfelt ballad and has a lackluster ending.
The Bottom Line
If you can manage to get your ears around those vocals and don't take these guys seriously at all, then you can have a lot of fun with this record. For the most part, this album mirrors the formula of the debut, but producer Roy Thomas Baker brings in new elements and a certain pomp flair which gives the album a fresh attitude.
The band delivers a strong sequel to the debut, but don't really take on the challenges of moving out of the pigeon hole they have been painted into. Those that loved the debut will love this and those that didn't get the band first time around still won't get them now.
I suspect the debut will continue with neither side giving any ground!
I must add that any album that clocks in at 35 minutes walks a very fine line. Of the tracks featured, should 1 or 2 be fillers for any reason to a particular listener, which leaves a mere 29 or so minutes of music, which is very hard to pass off as value for money.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Permission To Land
· One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back

Line Up:
· Justin Hawkins: Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer
· Dan Hawkins: Guitar
· Ed Graham: Drums
· Richie Edwards: Bass

Essential For Fans Of:
· The Darkness - Permission To Land
Track Listing
· One Way Ticket *
· Knockers
· Is It Just Me? *
· Dinner Lady Arms *
· Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time *
· Hazel Eyes
· Bald
· Girlfriend
· English Country Garden
· Blind Man
-- *Best Tracks


23/08/06: Gregg - gmcpa@optonline.net
Rating: 93
This is top notch, unique and underrated. Class AOR

16/04/06: andy - andyd@knac.com
Rating: 90
Just saw them live and cant stop smiling. Have read all the reviews on both and still cant get how people get to worrying over the vocals. Get your fucking hands up and get moving and laugh and enjoy it for what it is...just like the sellout crowd of all ages here in Adelaide, South Australia. Monster in your Face tones too!

08/04/06: John Elway - megjimp@cableone.net
Rating: 87
This is just a top notch rock record. Yeah, the falcetto is a bit much at times, but overall a strong record. Nocked it down for a couple forgetable songs and the short length of the disc. Otherwise, good stuff.

24/02/06: Toddman - twigren@csonline.net
Rating: 50
Garbage.

10/01/06: mark houston tx. - sluss528@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
love them or hate them this cd is simply awesome! stop all the bitching and just come aboard the train from hell!with all the rap and r&b and new metal bullshit out there,buy your ticket to hell and enjoy the ride!

10/01/06: mark houston tx. - sluss528@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
love them or hate them this cd is simply awesome! stop all the bitching and just come aboard the train from hell!with all the rap and r&b and new metal bullshit out there,buy your ticket to hell and enjoy the ride!

16/12/05: Lou - lou@notasheep.com
Rating: 100
True Rock n Roll in the mid 70's when Punk reared it's
noisy talentless head (no disrespect to Iggy Pop though).
1992 was the icing on the cake when grunge and alternative
became mainstream . The whole vibe was negative and
depressing and since then all these unshowered looking
dirtbags were xeroxed from Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.
The Darkness were sent to us for a purpose , to bring that
positive , fun vibe back to rock n roll after years of this
doom and gloom brand of so called "rock n roll" which has
had a stranglehold on the mainstream sheep . The songs on
"permission..." and "one way ticket..." are energetic ,
upbeat ...FUN baby! The mainstream sheep were long overdue
for a swift kick in the ass and this is it ! For this reason ,
i give both Darkness albums a 1000% rating. KEEP IT TRUE
ROCK N ROLL!!

07/12/05: LeFreak - n/a
Rating: 80
The new album from the Darkness has been a much-anticipated release in 2005, what with being the follow-up to a debut that caused quite a bit of commotion & controversy & even broke into the hard-to-penetrate & fickle American market, then appealing to the American youth on top of that! And all this after a decade of morose grunge, pretentious punk, & angry rap-metal hybrids, not to mention the plague of hip-hop, boy bands, teenybopper stars, "divas," & the like. The Darkness may have a "schtick" or a gimmick to many, but no one can dispute that they're bringing humour & fun back into rock'n roll & music in general. After all, isn't that what rock is all about?

The Darkness have the crazy falsetto vocals of frontman/guitarist Justin Hawkins, who is also a flambouyant figure in an over-the-top Freddie Mercury spoof fashion. But that's not a bad thing. Rock hasn't had a strong frontman image in far too long, unless you've had a lobotomy & some electric shock therapy & think that Fred Durst or "that guy" from Creed are actually charismatic frontmen. NOT!!! Disillusionment be damned! Yes, a little pomp & circumstance, a dash of 70's glam, & the stage is set already for great live performances.

What else has the Darkness contributed to the ailing music scene, most especially the mainstream? Guitar solos! The Darkness wasn't shy of a great guitar harmonies in the time-honored Queen & Thin Lizzy fashion, or a little two-hand tapping a lá Eddie Van Halen, mixed with plenty of squeals & double-stops, open-string licks after the Angus Young school. Not only were the Darkness duo, brothers Justin & Dan Hawkins, not afraid of their instruments as many seem to be, they would grace the songs with 2 or sometimes even 3 solo/lead breaks! How's that for going against the grain?

Lastly, the lyrics. Silly? No doubt. But when ever was it laid down as law that music had to be so angry or depressing? Do all musicians need to make political statements or share their religious beliefs with the world at large? Nope! The songs can be as silly as something Spinal Tap might pen. Or what if Monty Python had formed into a heavy rock outfit? Nothing wrong there!

So, how is the new disc? The songs are more well-composed, the production is better still, & there's more variety. More instruments make appearances on the disc to lend to the expansion on their sound. That said, the release is a bit more polished extension of the first release & the band doesn't stray too incredibly far, remaining in familiar territory while still exploring the possibilities in the 70's rock realm style-wise. The title track, "One Way Ticket," is really catchy & classic fun, & I love the exotic Middle Eastern interlude & solo, which is totally cool & exciting to hear on any song that a band would dare to release as a single. "Dinner Lady Arms" is a nice track & another one of my personal favorites. Nice vibe to the song. Cool guitar harmonies.

My favorite track is "Bald," a witty track about getting to that very state. It's campy lyrics are exactly what I love about this band. "It would appear that male pattern baldness has set in, his hair, at an alarming pace, running away from his face." Gotta love it! And this is a track where Justin Hawkins uses his falsetto vocals excellently in contrast to his normal singing voice, something that he's doing more on this release...until the end, that is. "Knockers" has some faux-country lines twisted into a rock frame. "Is It Just Me?" is a great track with a killer solo that reminds of Brian May before seguing into some 2-hand tapping done tastefully. And a great guitar tone. Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time" is a nice, sweet ballad. Very well-done song, a welcome addition to the album.

As many have pointed out, the last few tracks of the cd are weaker in comparison to the first, I'd say, 2/3 of the disc. Justin Hawkins starts leaning on the falsetto a little too much, rather than the artful contrasts on words, lines, or choruses used on the rest of the songs. Still, the music is great, with ultra-catchy beats for tunes like "Girlfriend" & "English Country Garden." If these were just a few fillers on a longer album, that would be just fine, but an album that clocks in at 35:10 can NOT afford ANY fillers. The length of this release borders on criminal. If there are a number of singles released, you'll have to buy them for the bonus tracks, then record your own cd-r to feel like you own the full release (aka "extended play"), like I did with the debut. "Permission To Land" was also a very short disc & adding the B-sides actually made the release about twice the length of the original. The same will happen here, already with "Wanker" & "Grief Hammer" being the B-sides for the first single.

All said & done, the Darkness still have the "classic" 70's rock vibe, with the obvious AC/DC Angus Young riffage, Brian May/Queen & Thin Lizzy harmonies still intact. The falsetto on here reminds me a little of another UK band from the 70's who used falsetto in the backing vocals to great effect, namely City Boy, & that's worthy of mention. I can hear a little of the Sweet in there too. And the Darkness sound is a little more refined on here.

All said, this is a great release because the music world is still ailing & bands of this genre are needed in great force. Will the Darkness save rock'n roll? Probably not...But they will contribute significantly if people continue to take heed. We just need more real bands who know how to rock to step up to the plate.

07/12/05: scott - n/a
Rating: 60
I've tried hard to love this album, but I can't. The first half of the album grew on me after a dozen listens, but the second half still does nothing for me. Frankly, I expected a lot more ROCK from an album called "One Way Ticket To HELL".

"Permission to Land" was an awesome debut and I feel the band needed to build off that and produce another album with the same heaviness and even stronger songs. "One Way Ticket To Hell" lacks the heaviness, big hooks and overall excitement of its predecessor. Too much pop, not enough rock, and needs better songs.

This album might have had its place later in the band's career, but NOW is not the right time for this. Does the band really think its fans are going to like this album better than the debut? Are they moving forward, or backward? Honestly, the B-SIDES from the "Permission to Land" singles collectively make a better album than this. With this weak follow-up, the next album is going to be critical for The Darkness. If they don't return to the original formula, and fast, their career is going to be cut short.

05/12/05: Adam - aewsalford@aol.com
Rating: 95
A fantastic,catchy,totally memorable album.
The short length is no problem for me as it just means there is no filler.
Nothing is totally original anymore, and at least The Darkness are nicking their ideas off the best!
Avoid if you have absolutely no sense of humour.
Along with Cathedral's 'Garden Of Unearthly Delights' this is my album of the year, no doubt.

04/12/05: David - david.king69@btopenworld.com
Rating: 50
I really liked the first album. Thought the 2nd would go 1 of 2 ways. Rock hard or go chart pop style. Sadly it's the latter. The Darkness are much better than this. Like the tracks One Way ticket and Bald, with the first 5 tracks ok, then the dreaded Hazel Eyes, that song is sh*te, so embarrasing. Should have stuck to rock, this lighter pop sound means The Darkness will fade away!!!!!

03/12/05: Rockstar - cutter33_us@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
Got it today and loving it. Go Darkness!!!!

02/12/05: Dave C - dpc1@bolton.ac.uk
Rating: 70
Certainly a better album than its predecessor, however .....
35 MINUTES FOR AN ALBUM ... IN 2005 !!!!! IT'S A JOKE !!!!

It's been said in other reviews - the opening half of the album is good, straight-ahead rock n roll with plenty of riffs, BUT ...
...it then begins to fade in a dramatic fashion.

Thankfully, Justin's vocals (I use that term very lightly) have been toned down somewhat, which makes the whole listening experience far more palatable, and the insertions of panpipes, bagpipes and other little gimmicks help give this album a welcomed lift.
Again, I must remark on the shortness of the whole experience - if this continues on subsequent releases, then, The Darkness will soon join the ranks of the forgotten.
Finally, I'd like to end on a positive - I saw The Darkness live last year, and they were amazing !!!! So they CAN produce the goods when they have full control - let the record producers/companies get involved and it soon becomes all about FAST MONEY !!!!!

Take control guys, it's Joe Public who are paying your wages !!!!!

02/12/05: freddy de keyzer - freddk100@hotmail.com
Rating: 40
Hell, why all these great ratings ???
First : a running time of only a good 30 minutes is a pure rip-off and that costs these guys at least 15 points ! A shame that there are CD's released in 2005 with such a short running time !
Secondly : where is the integrety of this band ? This is a pure mix of AC/DC, Queen etc.
NO originalaty at all ! NO own style ! NO inspiration (short running time and the rest is 'stolen' !)
Third weak point is the singer. The poor guy can't really sing, although I have to admit that his 'performance' here is better than on the debut !
This band is a pure gimmick, a company 'stunt' !
This is no real band with talent !
If this is the future of melodic rock, then I'll pass immediately !
C'mon people : listen and if you listen rightly than you will admit that these 'comics' are no competition at all for real class melodic acts !
A very overrated, third rate band and dito album !

30/11/05: Rocketdog - jroyland@maine.rr.com
Rating: 90
Not being a huge fan of the first album, I really didn't think I'd care that much more for this release, either - but I was wrong. I'm still a bit amazed at how much I'm liking this record. "Dinner Lady Arms" and "Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" are probably my faves. The album really is a 'grower, though - as the first couple of times I listened to it, I also felt it dropped off on the second half. But now, even those tunes are starting to appeal to me, or at least get stuck in my head ("English Country Garden"). Production and performance wise - this one's head and shoulders above their debut. Only negative is the album's short length, and the final track, "Blind Man" - which just does nothing for me, personally.

30/11/05: brett - theboss592@hotmail.com
Rating: 96
the darkness are the future of classic rock. i'm impressed at the attention theses guys have paid to the school that so many have forgotten about. that is the school of classic rock.Knockers, is it just me, one way ticket. they are creating they're own sound by mixing the classics. even if it sells 2 copies and never makes a chart entry these guys really tried to make great rock. in my opinion they succeeded nicely.

30/11/05: Kevin - kgp129@netzero.net
Rating: 75
First four songs are solid. The vocals on the album as a whole are there. The album loses me by track 6. Lot more keyboards on this one.

30/11/05: DP - DannyParker2000@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
Intelligent, outrageous, heart-warming, hilarious, sad and completely over-the-top, 'One Way Ticket is a glorious follow-up to the cracking debut album - 'Permission To Land'. Despite it's relatively short running time, The Darkness' latest album is a truly epic recording...one that will have hitting that repeat play button over & over again.

On this rock behemoth you'll enjoy and relate to songs about hair loss, shagging in your back garden, infidelity, women with big tits, dumping your bird and then having to try and woo her back, the loneliness of touring, women with big tits..sorry, mentioned that already, hazel eyed Scottish maidens, growing old and the tragic loss of loved ones. This is one of those albums where you simply have to read the lyric sheet as you listen - Hawkins' wordplay is nothing short of genius.

I expect the purists will get their knickers-in-a-knot all over again, but don't let them put you off...Rock's saviours are back with what is quite easily the album of the year.

Buy it, own it, love it.

100/100

30/11/05: tcman41 - undertheporch@yahoo.com
Rating: 75
This is disc really knocks you off your seat for the first half and in my opinion totally fails for the second half. Good rock songs to start and then the disc morphs into ballads sung about 4 keys to high, sounds like the guy has his penis stuck in a blender, lol.

30/11/05: George - RNRDamn@aol.com
Rating: 95
This is an amazing album. Anyone who rips the record is obviously not a music fan at all. The only track on here I didn't care for was "Girlfriend" but if you replace it with one of the b-sides "Wanker" or "Grief Hammer" you have a perfect record. Standout tracks are "One Way Ticket", "Knockers", "Is It Just Me", "Dinner Lady Arms", Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" & "Bald". If you like the heaviness of the first one this will take 2 or 3 listens to hook you.


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