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Single Review: Dark Below – “Make Believe”

The churning, hard-charging attack style that Missouri’s Dark Below brings to their music helps draw attention from the brains behind the lyrics. There is a thoughtful message about the power of the mind behind in their new single “Make Believe”. The three members of the band, vocalist/guitarist Joshua Campbell, bass player Josh Grove, and drummer Quin Koldan have played together under this moniker since 2016 and are starting to hit their initial stride with this new release. It highlights the elements that will sustain them as they venture forth. Heavy and varied riffing, a powerful rhythm section, strong melodies, and close-knit playing are their hallmarks. “Make Believe” highlights an additional strength – their commitment to writing and recording incisive material.

The song’s subject is about the power of imagination – for good and ill. It can have a transformative effect on people, reshaping their worlds, but it can also forge disconnects in how they view their bonds between the world and others. It’s written from a personal perspective, but the band fashions their words in such a way that they encourage universal resonance. Vocalist Joshua Campbell does an enormous service to the material with the way he puts it over for listeners. He doesn’t lay heavy on the dramatics but instead draws from a wealth of emotion to further deepen the impact of the words. Josh Grove’s backing vocals help everything hit even harder.

Grove’s bass playing helps as well. He and drummer Quin Koldan make for a mighty tandem in Dark Below’s energy room supplying a solid yet fluid base. They lock in from the outset. Their interplay unleashes Joshua Campbell’s imaginative mix of riffs and lead work in a way that unlocks the entire song. It’s stunning to hear these three musicians push their way through this arrangement working in unison without fail, and how they feed off each other, and bring things to an ultimately satisfying fruition.

Malcolm Springer’s production aids in positioning them in the best possible way for accomplishing this. Springer’s reputation precedes him. His work with bands such as Collective Soul, Matchbox 20, and Fear Factory illustrates his skill at achieving the desired sound for multiple styles. His accomplishments here propel the band over the finish line. The music video for the song is another important point for the band. Filmed live, the stripped-down yet atmospheric approach to the promotional clip is an excellent accompaniment for the three-piece.

It all adds up to a kickass experience. These aren’t three musicians going through the motions – they are full-on budding artists in control of their directions and certain about what buttons to push. Moreover, they have something to say, and do it well. They’re a road-tested unit as well, far from a studio creation, and there’s no reason to think that their new single won’t be just the sort of sonic powerhouse capable of blasting audiences into delirious submission. Moreover, it’ll whet their appetites and keep them coming back for more. “Make Believe” isn’t pretend; it’s as real as it gets. 


Loren Sperry  

About Michael Stover

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