Personnel: Dave King (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, bodhran); Dennis Casey (vocals, acoustic 6-string guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, electric guitar); Robert Schmidt (vocals, tenor banjo, bouzouki, mandolin); Matthew Hensley (vocals, concertina); Nathen Maxwell (vocals); Bridget Regan (violin, tin whistle); George Schwindt (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Ryan Hewitt.
Recording information: Echo Mountain Recording, Asheville, NC; Sonic Ranch, El Paso, TX; Studio L, Asheville, NC.
Photographer: Dan Monick.
No one does maudlin quite like the Irish, and on their fifth studio album, Speed of Darkness, Flogging Molly show once again that no one does Irish quite like them. With a blend of rock and Celtic folk, the band continues to keep things more pastoral than punk, adding drive where it's needed without ever taking away from their use of traditional instrumentation. Like rain on a shining summer day, Flogging Molly's more traditional approach allows them to cultivate a sound that's plaintive without being overly depressing, delivering lines like "It's not a good day left to be in a fight/Living is hard through the struggles of life" with a smile on their faces and a bounce in their step on "Don't Shut 'Em Down." While Flogging Molly hasn't done much to innovate on their sound over the past decade or so, it doesn't feel like they have to. Rather than growing stale, Speed of Darkness shows a band that's only grown more confident in their style over the years, performing songs like "Rise Up" and "Revolution" with a self-assuredness that allows the listener to let them do their thing without worrying about their bona fides, giving them the chance to draw us into their world without ever questioning what they're doing. If you're already familiar with Flogging Molly, then Speed of Darkness isn't going to disappoint, and if you're not a fan yet, there's no better time to jump on the wagon than today. ~ Gregory Heaney