Sound — 9
While some people have panned this album for the large amount of slower songs on it, I personally think the way this album is structured perfectly. Inspired by Dave and Bridget's new hometown of Detroit, it perfectly captures the angst, sadness and hopefulness the town now goes through on a daily basis. Opening - and title track - "Speed Of Darkness" sets the tone for the effort. While it rocks harder than most of the songs on here, it doesn't feel out of place. "Revolution", the second single, is a perfect song to segue into. While the lyrics may be a little off-putting, they seem to work with the music. "The Heart Of The Sea" follows, and while decent, it seems to fall a little flat, as if they put it on here for the people who'll complain about a more "mature" album from a band best known for singing about being "seven drunken pirates". It doesn't flow with the album so well. "Don't Shut 'Em Down" is the first single, and it was, in my opinion, the wrong choice for a single. It's just an odd style of song, despite the lyrics fitting in quite well. The fifth song on the album - "The Power's Out" - is the standout track, talking about how people deal with living in squalor and demanding accountability from CEOs and others in power ("The CEO must go!") "So Sail On" is the first "true" slow song, and while it slows the feel of the album down, it more than makes up for it in raw emotion. The song is a joy to hear live; just try not to tear up a bit if you're fortunate enough to witness it. "Saints & Sinners" is the song that should have been the leadoff single, in my opinion. Powerful and poignant, it should have been the only choice, and was amazing to see live, as well. "This Present State Of Grace" talks some more about the state of affairs in this country and how we deal with our economy being in shambles. "The Cradle Of Humankind" continues a run of slow songs (3 in a row), but this is by no means a bad thing. "Oliver Boy (All Of Our Boys)" compares the attempted genocide of the Irish people by Oliver Cromwell (get the title now?) to our current situation in Iraq. Well-written, well thought out, and, well... Good. This album also features Bridget's vocal debut on "A Prayer For Me In Silence", where she trades singing duties with husband and lead singer Dave. The other standout track from the album and the only love song. My only complaint is that it's too short. Finally, the album ends with "Rise Up". This song is all about standing together as one and ending needless fighting with one another.
Lyrics — 10
Dave King has finally decided to attempt to create Flogging Molly's magnum opus, and I for one believe he's done it. The lyrics on this album perfectly reflect the times we live in, particularly for those living in Detroit. I don't believe he could have done any better on this album.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is one of the albums of the year. Not just from (Celtic) punk bands, but in general. I wasn't expecting to love this album as much as I do, but after the first two listens, I can't get enough of it. It has yet to leave my CD player, and I bought it over two weeks ago (you remember buying CDs instead of illegally downloading it, right?) The best songs on the album are "The Power's Out", "So Sail On", "Saints & Sinners", and "A Prayer For Me In Silence". Every song is good, but those are the best. I can't say enough good things about this album; go buy it now. Right now. Do it right now. If someone stole this album, I would buy five more copies and lock away four of them. 2011 belongs to the Irish.