5th August 2014 – Sumerian Records
02. Rapture In Exile
03. The Misery We Make
04. Infinite Eyes
06. The Great Oppressor
08. By The Starlight
09. Lost For Life
10. The Goddess Figure
11. Lunar Divide (Deluxe Edition)
12. Beneath The Blackening Sky
13. Surrealist(Deluxe Edition)
14. Hypatia Rising
Sumerian Records have signed some questionable bands in the past, but between releasing The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s One Of Us Is The Killer last year, and now the self-titled album Darkest Hour by (duh) Darkest Hour, they are deserving of some serious accolades for supporting two of the hardest working and influential veteran acts in metal.
Darkest Hour, unlike The Dillinger Escape Plan before them, have chosen to overtly commercialize their signature sound with their latest album. Darkest Hour, much like The Dillinger Escape Plan before them, have made one of the finest albums of their career.
“Wasteland” is the strongest album opener that Darkest Hour have written since “Doomsayer (The Beginning of the End)” from 2007’s outstanding Deliver Us, and it sets the tone for remainder of the (darkest) hour to come. It represents a perfect cross-section of a seasoned band that knows how to both play to their strengths – their boundless energy and technical prowess – and to develop their sound into something more consistently memorable without dumbing it down.
The first half of the album is generally aggressive, and it features excellent riffing and solo work from the phenomenal Mike Schleibaum and Mike Carrigan. Concerning the guitars specifically, this again is the finest performance since Deliver Us and represents the best that Darkest Hour are capable of. Newcomer Travis Orbin gives a perfectly serviceable performance on drums. This is not to imply that the drum work is mediocre in any way, but they essentially remain in the pocket at all times, providing a solid backbone that refrains from being flashy with the notable exceptions of more hardcore-oriented tracks like “The Great Oppressor” and “Lost For Life”. Darkest Hour also have a new bass player (who happens to also be a monstrously powerful drummer) in Aaron Deal who is unfortunately too buried in the mix to be able to say anything about.
The biggest star of the album, surprisingly, is John Henry on vocals. Fans of Darkest Hour know his voice well, as Henry is one of the only two founding members remaining, but this is far and away the most dynamic and passionate recording of his long career. Henry has always possessed a distinctive metalcore rasp and in recent years has experimented more with pitched screaming and has delivered great results. However, Darkest Hour features copious purely sung choruses and frankly the performance is astounding. The clean singing on “Futurist” sounds like nothing Darkest Hour have ever attempted. It’s an arena rock song done properly, with thumping beats and a chorus so catchy that it’s easy to imagine a crowd singing and clapping along.
Speaking of sounding like nothing Darkest Hour have ever attempted, the Lacuna Coil-esque “By The Starlight” is an absolutely gorgeous duet that builds to a thrilling climax. It’s easy to imagine experiments like this upsetting longtime Darkest Hour fans, but how can one be upset when it’s executed so brilliantly?
Closing tracks “Hypatia Rising” and especially “Departure” are, much like the rest of the album, refreshingly melodic while still sounding just like the Darkest Hour that have been a staple of the metal scene for just shy of two decades now. With their self-titled album, Darkest Hour have displayed the kind of vim and vigor that has no doubt contributed to their longevity and it will hopefully be the album that brings Darkest Hour to the level of attention they deserve.