Power of Metal.dk Review

Rick Miller
Heart of Darkness
Style: Progressive Rock
Release date: 5 January, 2014
Playing time: 41:47

Through the murky fog, the drums pound into your head. Stumbling through the relentless jungle, the flute pierces through the blackness. Sweat. Tears. Heartache. Your breathing gets heavier and heavier, and your mind embarks on a trip into madness and sorrow. Your pulse races: Your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth. Dehydration mixes with saturation to produce sheer misery. The drums pound in your skull: The rhythm entrances your soul.

That, my friends, is the experience of Rick Miller's "Heart of Darkness". Rick's newest album is a true experience for your senses and emotions. As you can tell from the dark evocation present in the sensual cover art, "Heart of Darkness" is mysterious and somehow lovely, too. It seems only thematically based on Joseph Conrad's novel of the same name, but really it could be a telling of the story from a purely emotional perspective. Anyways, one of the first things that struck me about this release is the quality of the lyrics, whether they be in song or in spoken poetry. The writing is, in a word, perfect. No cheese. No clichés. The album is full of memorable, haunting lines, and expressive word pictures that really create images in your mind. Be prepared, then, for an immersive experience.

Rick Miller is a busy musician with 9 releases since 2003. However, his music doesn't seem to get stale or played-out. His music is definitely based on a foundation of Pink Floyd, as the music a swirling mix of guitar solos, ambient keys, and atmosphere. I also seem to hear a good amount of the light airiness of of Steve Hackett's solo albums here, too, especially in Rick's vocal style. Into that mix, Rick has added ethnic and electronic touches to tailor "Heart of Darkness" to fit its theme. Pounding tribal drums interplay with exceptional flute passages and a thick, incense-laced atmosphere, and it's all so very enjoyable.

This album is all about contrast. Dark and light. High and Low. Organic and synthetic. Soaring guitars and shrill flutes pierce through the dank atmosphere and rhythmic drums. Electronic synth laces the tribal vocal harmonies, displaying a marriage of synthetic and organic. Surreal and stark, vague and frighteningly real. "Heart of Darkness" plays with your mind, all the while delighting you.

The album is also rather varied. From the nightmarish, ethnic "Heart of Darkness" to the soft, emotional pleas of "Blood of the Rose" and "Castle Walls" to the misty desolation of "The Dark Lady" and the blackened harmonies of "Come Summer, She Died"; this album is deeply inspired and forbiddingly poetic. "The Dark Lady" is my favorite track, and certainly my favorite track of 2014 thus far. It features incredible structure, mystery, and an awesome instrumental with an incredible guitar solo and synth performance.

If this is the way that 2014 is going to perform, bring it on! Rick Miller has scared me as much as he has delighted me in "Heart of Darkness", but that just shows his skill and maturity. He knows the type of music he wants to create, and he does it with gusto and inspiration. "Heart of Darkness", then, is the first masterpiece of 2014.

01. Heart Of Darkness (6:20)
02. Blood Of The Rose (10:03)
03. Castle Walls (5:06)
04. The Dark Lady (13:26)
05. Come Summer, She Died (6:52)


Label: Independent
Distribution: Rick Miller @ Bandcamp
Artwork rating: 98/100
Reviewed by: Jason Spencer
Date: 11 February, 2014
Website: Rick Miller @ Bandcamp