Dare – Sacred Ground 2016 album review. 5 star rating.



‘Sacred Ground’

Dare – Sacred Ground teaser video, audio only.

2016 release from Legend Records.

Darren Wharton – Vocals, keyboards. Vinny Burns – Guitars. Kevin Whitehead – Drums. Nigel Clutterbuck – Bass. Marc Roberts – Keys.

Artist location: UK.

5 out of 5 stars rating.

Reviewed by David.

  1. Home.
  2. I’ll Hear You Pray.
  3. Strength.
  4. Everytime We Say Goodbye.
  5. Days Of Summer.
  6. On My Own.
  7. Until.
  8. All Brass Was Gold.
  9. You Carried Me.
  10. Like The First Time.
  11. Along The Heather.

Thin Lizzy keyboardist and incredibly talented Dare mastermind and frontman Darren Wharton is back with his first release of all brand new material since 2009’s ‘Arc Of The Dawn’.

Anyone who knows me or has read the two reviews I have posted of Dare albums will know I am a huge fan of Darren and this band, so it should come as no surprise that I was ecstatic upon hearing about this new record and have been waiting anxiously for my copy to arrive.

Upon receiving it I immediately popped it into the player and sat back to listen to what turned out to be 45 minutes of pure AOR at it’s absolute best.

I recently wrote reviews of both the outstanding ‘Blood From Stone’ and  ‘Beneath The Shining Waters’ albums stating them as my first and second favorite Dare records of all time. After listening to this new album multiple times I am going to have to amend that and say that this is not only easily my second favorite album from Darren but perhaps even the best he has given us yet.

Wharton has been consistantly delivering above par melodic rock records since Dare’s debut record, ‘Out Of The Silence’, in 1988. With 8 studio albums (one of which, ‘Calm Before The Storm 2’, is a re-done version of a previous album with a few changes to it) and 1 live album under his belt with the band, he proves here that he has not lost a single step with his writing or his vocals.

Writing wise this is just as strong as anything he has given us before and contains the same sound we have been familiar with since 1998’s ‘Calm Before The Storm’ when he really started heavily incorporating the celtic tones into his music that most will know the band for now.

Vocally Wharton has never sounded better. He has an amazing voice with such a great tone and is capable of singing rockers (just listen to ‘Heartbreaker’ from the ‘Out Of The Silence’ record or pretty much anything from the ‘Blood From Stone’ record and you will hear it for yourself), mid-tempo songs and ballads alike and sound nothing less than superb on all of them. Despite his 53 years of age you cannot tell a difference between his voice now and the band’s 1988 debut release. The man seems to have not aged a day vocally and sounds exquisite on all eleven tracks of this record with a wonderful and emotional vocal delivery throughout the entire record. 

The band is fantastic as always, but with musicians such as Clutterbuck, Whitehead, Roberts and the outstanding talent of the great, and very underrated, Vinny Burns on guitar, then we would expect no less. It is great to see Burns back in the band and with his reappearance we are treated to more guitar solos then we have had on the last few releases and a bit of a heavier record. He is truly one hell of an amazing guitarist and one that we do not hear nearly enough from.

Anyone familiar with Dare will find familiar territory here with Darren’s  usual delivery of beautiful melodies, fantastic vocals and outstanding songs. Anyone that is not familiar with them, Dare is a tough band to describe. There is no one else in melodic rock to really compare their sound to that I know of. Ten has had their moments of sounding similar (like the wonderful ‘Silent Rain’) but it is still a rarity. Click on the link at the top of the page to hear snippets of the album to get a feel for what the band sounds like these days.

Some of the most beautiful melodies in melodic rock you are going to hear, phenomenal vocals, fantastic musicians and not a single bad release in the lot, Dare is a band that has proven themselves time and time again and continue to deliver excellent music with each and every release.

Darren is an incredible writer, musician and singer and he gives us what, in my opinion, may possibly be the greatest record of his career. Hopefully it will not be another 7 years before we hear more new music from this band.

Do yourself a big favor and check this one out. If you like beautiful melodies and a bit more of the mellower side of AOR then I do not think you will be disappointed.

Very highly recommended.

Standout Tracks:

‘I’ll Hear You Pray’.


‘Everytime We Say Goodbye’.

‘Days Of Summer’.


‘All Brass Was Gold’.

‘You Carried Me’.

‘Like The First Time’.

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