Justin Hawkins and Vin Diesel isn’t an obvious comparison. But just like the muscular star and his beloved Fast & Furious films, there is always a nagging doubt as to whether The Darkness’ frontman is fully in on the joke as to how ridiculous this all is as. On ‘Easter Is Cancelled’, surprisingly only their sixth studio record in 16 years, there are signs that they are losing sight of the joke altogether.
Opener ‘Rock And Roll Deserves To Die’ is classic Darkness, not subverting but leaning fully into those hair metal tropes perfectly - right down to the ridiculously overblown and portentous intro with, of course, a huge rifforama at its climax. Unfortunately, that is largely as good as it gets. Tracks like ‘How Can I Lose Your Love’, feeling for all the world like a sad sequel to ‘Growing On Me’ and ‘Live Til I Die’ suffer from being stuck firmly in a strange MOR territory. Like much of the album, they have forgotten the fact that when The Darkness stop being funny, everything stops working.
It’s not all bad however. ’Deckchair’, a perfect piss-take of peak-Freddie nonsense is a welcome (though brief) interlude, and the title track proves that when their innate understanding of metal hit the mark then they are up there with the best. But towards the end, the wheels finally come off completely. ‘In Another Life’ aims for romance but gets entangled in entitlement, while the less said about the bitter ‘Choke On It’ the better. Much more of this and it won’t just be Easter that is cancelled.