The plethora of metal and hard rock bands appearing in the last decade has proven to be a boon for those genres. Columbia, Missouri’s Dark Below has existed in its current form since 2016 and is making steady inroads with their dynamic and pulverizing work. They skillfully harness the jaw-dropping potential of a power trio while avoiding the Hard Rock & Metal cliches. The best rock power trios condense a band’s energy into a small frame that generates maximum power balanced with compelling dynamics and Dark Below has taken a big stride in that direction with the release of new song “Make Believe”.

Produced by Malcolm Springer, noted for his work with bands as diverse as Fear Factory and Matchbox 20, among others, and Jason Schrick of JPS Productions, “Make Believe” is representative of the band at its finest. Vocalist/guitarist Josh Campbell describes the song as being about the transformative power of imagination. The plaintive power of his voice evokes the subject matter in a matter-of-fact manner and the lyrics pursue a conversational style accessible to any listener. Campbell tailors each line to suit the arrangement rather than treating them as an afterthought.

The frantic pace of the cut nonetheless allows for multiple changes in direction. Dark Below is a thoroughly modern hard rock/alt metal band, never reliant on one central riff to make their musical case, and breezes through the song’s assorted changes without missing a step. Drummer Quin Koldan’s sound stands out. Producers Schrick and Springer worked successfully in achieving a thunderous sternum-rattling drum sound that sets an authoritative tone for the performance.

Koldan joins bassist and backing vocalist Josh Grove for a formidable rhythm section. Their playing gives Dark Below an attack reminiscent, in this context, of a flying brick wall. It frees Campbell to unleash one six-string salvo after another over a dependable foundation that locks down the bottom end. You won’t hear any holes in Dark Below’s approach.

The band keeps things sharp and on point. There’s no senseless self-indulgence. Campbell doesn’t go for guitar hero style solos and the song benefits from that. They gear themselves toward laying down a juggernaut of sound for listeners. Alternating the raw-boned riffing with slashing upper-register breaks and a smattering of lighter sections gives “Make Believe” needed diversity where other bands are too often content bludgeoning listeners into slack-jawed submission.

The band’s accompanying video for the song is an atmospheric performance clip. It gives viewers an excellent idea of the energy that Dark Below brings to live performances and its stripped-down aesthetic complements the band’s no-nonsense attitude towards their music. It’s an excellent promotional tool highlighting what the band brings to the table.

Dark Below is a road-tested unit who are well-versed in playing with the best bands. The lessons they have learned playing with top-flight outfits such as Saliva, Buckcherry, Rehab, and Pop Evil, among others, serve them well when writing and performing their own material. “Make Believe” will blow away anyone who appreciates the cream of the crop in modern hard rock and leave them wanting more. 

Dark Below – Tour Dates:

Friday, 7/14 – Rose Music Hall – Columbia, MO

Friday, 9/1 – Diamond Music Hall – Saint Peters, MO

Friday, 9/15 – The Majestic – Fort Smith, AR (w/Rehab)

Saturday, 9/16 – Foxhouse Bar & Grill – Palestine, TX (W/Rehab)

Friday, 9/22 – Sam’s Place – Crowley, LA (W/Scotty Austin)

Saturday, 9/23 – Fat Daddys – Mansfield, TX (W/Scotty Austin)

Sunday, 9/24 – The Deadhorse – San Angelo, TX (W/Scotty Austin)

Saturday, 10/7 – Mulligan’s Bar – Owensboro, KY

Garth Thomas