Darko – Bonsai Mammoth

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/Label: Lockjaw Records
Distributor/Label URL: http://www.lockjawrecords.co.uk
Released: 2017
Buy Album: https://darko.bandcamp.com/album/bonsai-mammoth
Band Website: https://www.darkoband.co.uk

Darko - Bonsai Mammoth

Band Line-up:

Dan Smith – Vocals,
Rob Piper – Guitar,
Chris Brown – Guitar,
Karl Sursham – Bass,
Andy Borg – Drums.

Track Listing:

1. Life Forms
2. Just A Short Line
3. Set In Our Ways
4. This Is Love?
5. I Knew I Should Have Taken That Left Turn At Alberquerque
6. The Chernobyl Effect
7. Hiraeth
8. In The Company Of Wolves
9. Lifeblood
10. Dead Hordes
11. We Can Stand For Something More


Punk. It’s just full of energy and when you come across an album title such as “Bonsai Mammoth”, you can only imagine the wonders that await your ears. Guildford’s DARKO’s debut presents itself with a quirky lean, but what’s the deal that is on offer? Misfired humour or a masterstroke of quirky quality?

As opener “Life Forms” chimes into life, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve picked up a prog album by mistake. With it’s pleasant clean chords ringing and shimmering out, it sounds wonderfully warm until all that goes to hell and DARKO’s beast mode is engaged. Therein is the secret weapon amongst the band’s arsenal: melody. There’s a life and verve about “Bonsai Mammoth” that sparkles and brings a smile the face. The delightfully-titled “I Should Have Taken That Left Turn At Alberquerque” bounces along in typical punk fashion, but demonstrates a different class of musicianship to most others – it’s very THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, with lightning-quick guitar licks and crazed drumming aplenty.

A rustic but solid production complements the fun here and, despite the short runtime of the album (a brief twenty-seven minutes), it absolutely flies by in a blur of spasmodic, angular riffs and sublimely passionate vocals. If there is a fault, then it has to be that it is all over too soon. But then again, like a fine meal or any enjoyable experience, it need only be as long as it needs to be for the experience to be enjoyed to its fullest.

In all honesty, from the title alone, good things were expected of DARKO’s debut “Bonsai Mammoth” and it truly delivers. With a sense of fun permeating throughout (there seems to be a pleasant thread of humour winding its way through the album) and excellent musicianship, these Guildford lads have got a bright future growing.

Review by: Lee Carter