Flogging Molly’s fifth studio album, Speed of Darkness, on the band’s own label, Borstal Beat, shows the sham rock group haven’t slowed down for a second. Speed of Darkness is rich with that speedy celtic anthem punk that gives Flogging Molly such a renowned live-band reputation. It is energetic and frenetic and heady with vitriol for the capital letter M Man. This record, though, takes a turn in focus from drunken lullabies (referencing both the record title and overall sentiment) and takes on the demise of the American economy as its inspiration. Anyone who’s awake at this moment knows that’s no light challenge.

The subject of collapsing businesses and families that can’t feed their children in America is equally as powerful as the stories of the same from frontman, Dave King’s birthplace of Ireland, but on Speed of Darkness there are less moments of that absolute knife stabbing pain than we would like. Songs like, “If I Ever Leave This World Alive,” on Drunken Lullabies, and “The Worst Day Since Yesterday,” on Swagger, are so memorable and so piercing that we expected Flogging Molly’s first release on their own label would match in conviction. There are moments that near the peak of Flogging Molly’s greatness but none that surpass it. (“The Cradle of Humankind” is a departure from this generalization, however, and displays the real poetic phenomenon that we have come to love from King and his brood. This is one you will get caught singing embarrassingly loud alone.)

The Los Angeles based band’s relocation to motor city seems to have influenced not only the theme of the album but the expression of that theme. Of all Flogging Molly’s releases, this one feels unequivocally radio friendly. In perhaps contradictory fashion, living in one of the cities hardest hit by the recession has made Flogging Molly put out easily their most commercial release. In that respect, Speed of Darkness may put off some die hard fans (it’s the die hards that never want “their” band to be discovered) but those fans should want their beloveds to succeed, especially if it means the message of this record reaches more listeners.

Speed of Darkness is not that great a departure for Flogging Molly that anyone who’s downed a pint to “Rebels Of The Sacred Heart” won’t feel that nostalgia jig creep up on the record’s highlights, “The Power’s Out” and “Saints & Sinners.” Plus the record gets better with every listen and it’s sure to rouse a crowd.

Buy Speed of Darkness on iTunes for $9.99 and on amazon.com for $8.99.

Watch the official video for the single, “Don’t Shut Em Down.”

Rating: 7/10

Tracklist:

  1. Speed of Darkness
  2. Revolution
  3. The Heart of the Sea
  4. Don’t Shut Em Down
  5. The Power’s Out
  6. So Sail On
  7. Saints & Sinners
  8. The Present State of Grace
  9. The Cradle of Humankind
  10. Oliver Boy (All of Our Boys)
  11. A Prayer For Me In Silence
  12. Rise Up