To say that Kevin M. Buck (http://kevinmbuck.com) is a one-man Metallica is not the most accurate description of "Euphoric Darkness," but it'll do the trick. There's something about these guitar-hero albums that always make me raise a skeptical eyebrow; maybe it's because so many of them are awful, especially the ones that are cranked out in somebody's basement and tossed unsolicited into the world. That's not the case with "Euphoric Darkness," however, which is why I'm able to write about it.
Let's get something straight, though: "Euphoric Darkness" isn't a collection of heavy-metal instrumentals. There is actual songwriting on this LP, much of it informed by the mystical/supernatural poetry of '70s progressive and hard rock. If you, like me, grew up on a steady diet of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest, this record shouldn't be missed. Buck has reopened the dimly-lit corridors those British acts once held residence in. But unlike much of today's depressing, angst-puking nu metal, it was all in good fun, giving rock and roll a larger-than-life comic-book escapist fantasy adventure.
"Moonlight on the Castle Ruins (Kojo No Tsuki)" and "Infinite Eclipse" are epic rockers with monolithic guitars and midnight-sky atmospherics. The pulverizing "The Wheel" features some of Buck's most intense axe work while the folky "Orange Sunshine" displays a different side to the man. Those with decidedly more technical ears will be impressed by Buck's versatility and imagination; to the rest, though, this is a potent reminder of how powerful rock music can be.