Music Review—Cruel to Be

Artist: DARKO
Single: Cruel To Be

UK-based punk rockers, DARKO, have announced the release of their new EP, SPARKLE. The album will be available anywhere you get your music on October 21, 2022. In the meantime, the band has released a single from the album titled, “Cruel To Be”. The single is available for streaming now and the music video is available on YouTube.

DARKO’s mix of melodic hardcore and techy skate-punk is inspired by bands like Protest The Hero, Rise Against, and Mastodon. The band consists of Tom West on vocals, Rob Piper on guitar and backing vocals, Chris Brown on guitar and backing vocals, Karl Sursham on bass and backing vocals, and Andy Borg on drums.

According to the band, “Cruel To Be” is a scalding attack on the “#BeKind” movement. Of the single, Tom West says, “We’re often lectured about how much nicer the world would be if we were all “a bit more kind.” It’s a lovely sentiment, but if we aren’t standing up to bullies, we aren’t being “more kind” at all, we’re just being cowards and hypocrites. Calling out a bigot doesn’t make you as bad as the bigot.

He continues, “Often the worst bullies use their massive platforms to attack marginalised groups, and then claim they’re the ones being bullied when people fight back. Cruel to Be is dedicated to anyone who’s fed up with being told they’re overreacting to being smeared and dehumanised by professional antagonists with enormous wealth, reach and influence.”

Before I got into the music, I had to find out a little more about the “#BeKind” movement that DARKO apparently has such a problem with—and frankly, I’m a little confused. The Be Kind movement was started by Lucy Alexander in 2016 after her 17-year-old son, Felix, took his own life due to online bullying. Lucy became an ambassador for the children’s mental health charity, Place2Be, and founded Felix’s Campaign of Kindness at his former high school to help teachers spot the signs of a student who is being bullied. Lucy’s story is one of tragedy, bravery, courage, and compassion. While it sounds like this movement may have been highjacked by celebrities, influencers, and corporations simply trying to escape the consequences of their actions, I would advise DARKO to be aware of the origins of a movement before they publicly slam it.

Knowing this made it a little difficult to enjoy the song, as the lyrics are quite abrasive, such as “Be kind all you like, but does it nullify their cruel, barbaric policies/We all know something that other people don’t/So be kind, but draw a line/Being nice is nice but doesn’t make it right.”

Otherwise, “Cruel To Be” was a decent song. I definitely heard the Rise Against influence on their sound. Tom West has a great voice, although I thought the scream-singing seemed out of place in this track. The music video was also well done—high quality and simple—featuring only the band playing in what looks to be one continuous take.

I’m looking forward to hearing what else DARKO has to offer when the rest of SPARKLE is released.

Check out DARKO on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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