Darkest Hour
Perpetual | Terminal

Did you know Darkest Hour was still together? I didn’t. I mean the last thing I reviewed by them was 2009s The Eternal Return. They have released 2 albums since then with 2014s self-titled effort and 2017s Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora, I own apparently but lord knows I could not tell you when I listened to them last or how good or bad they are. I’d say the fall of metalcore/s relevance plays into my general apathy for the band and the style but here we are with the band’s 9th album.

One could argue Darkest Hour was one of the US’s first bigtime metalcore bands of the early 00s (certainly So Sedated, So Secure was one of the first albums I heard in the style), mixing hack and slash At The Gates riffs and US hardcore. Throughout their albums, they have delivered a pretty consistent take on the sound with varying degrees of experimentation and natural development thrown in, with varying results. And what we have here after a 7-year gap is kind of what you’d expect from a Darkest Hour album in 2024.

To me, the album falls in line with the aforementioned The Eternal Return in that it mixes some of the band’s polished sounds (Deliver Us) with a little of the Undoing Ruin era experimentation and maturity. The 11 tracks cover all aspects of the band’s consistent discography and certainly, I was happy to hear some real rippers here as well as some more divulgent and experimental moments and tracks that do a little of both.

The opening title track is a perfect gateway for the rest of the album with an excellent mix of fast and mid-paced riffage interspersed with some beautiful acoustic moments. The next track, “Societal Bile”  goes straight for the throat, and then “A Prayer to the Holy Death” delivers a more restrained song but it’s graced with the excellent leads that the band has been known for, provided by new guitarist Nick Santora (ex-Fallujah).

Then we get “The Nihilist Undone” a searingly melodic track that might be one of the best songs the band has penned since the first 4 albums. Unfortunately, the momentum of that killer track stalls a bit with the next track “One With the Void” a somber, clean-sung almost ballad. It’s not a bad track and certainly highlights the more experimental and patient aspects of the bands’ latter discography, but after the prior track, the energy of the album grinds to a bit of a halt with this track and the following short instrumental “Amor Fati”. “Love is Fear” gets the energy level back up again while “New Utopian Dream” chugs with a mid-paced sternness. “Mausoleum” is an odd one, it’s mainly a wondrous acoustic ballad with hints of a really killer melody line that the band only partially fleshes out into metallic grandeur.

But speaking of metallic grandeur, after the short rager “My Only Regret”, the album closes with “Goddess of War, Give Me Something to Die For”, which like “The Nihilist Undone” is an album standout and one of the better songs the band has penned. Clocking in at 6 and a half minutes, it delivers a gorgeous acoustic intro before jumping into a classic hack-and-slash melodic romp full of sumptuous leads ending the album perfectly and showing despite the 7-year layoff Darkest Hour is still relevant even if the genre might not be in 2024.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 21st, 2024

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