Darkest Hour
Undoing Ruin

Boy did Victory Records need this. Bayside? Hawthorne Heights? The Black Maria? Give me a break. Not only have Victory broke their heinous un-metal streak with a killer slab of furiously melodic metal, Undoing Ruin is one the first anticipated US ‘core’ albums of the year that actually improves on its predecessor as the likes of On Broken Wings, Evergreen Terrace, The Red Chord and As I Lay Dying just could not meet the hype.Imagine for a rhetorical second that Darkest Hour’s last calamitous slab of sound, Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation was called subtitled ‘Ruin’. Undoing Ruin them becomes a fitting title for an album that deconstructs the prior albums sheer ferocity and rebuilds it with a semblance of pacing, control and melody. Fret not Hidden Hands fans, Darkest Hour haven’t gone emo on us as riotous tracks like “They Will Outlive Us”, “Low” and “District Divided” throw out sparks with metal melting intensity. However, at times, on Undoing Ruin, Darkest Hour show a much more refined grasp on the Swedish harmonies and melodies that guide their sound; a couple of ethereal instrumental tracks (“Pathos” and “Ethos”) break up the harrowing energy, while some of the tracks show a slightly laid back take on their fervent sound. “With a Thousand Words to Say but One”, “Convalescence” (which even toys with clean vocals), “Sound the Surrender”, “These Fevered Times”, “Tranquil” and the rather mid paced “Paradise” displays Darkest Hour fully embracing their Swedish roots with Devin Townsend’s excellent production, drop any semblance of brutish hardcore.

Call it blazingly melodic, call it melodically blazing, either way, Darkest Hour have raised the game for US based Gothencore by mixing their inherent US ferocity with now fully developed and superbly delivered sense of harmony that is far more steeped in classic In Flames, Dark Tranquility-isms that the full on assault of Hidden Hands. Kris Norris and Mike Scheibaum have upped their game in the solo department, now brimming with confidence; their tight shredding riffs now are littered with some artful but seething elegance that separates them from the pack (I hate to use the term metalcore, as DH are so more European sounding and with virtually no hardcore elements).

No doubt, “Convalescence” is the track that will find a sticking spot with fans with its simplistic percussive gait and rough ands ready clean chorus, even thought the track makes a nice comeback with some deft solo work and epic climax. Fans of Hidden Hands will relish the vitriolic and violent “They Will Outlive Us” as it’s a cathartic anti-song to the prior tracks relative ease. “Sound the Surrender” is pure Swedish dual harmonies that belies Darkest Hours angry fits with galloping supine melodies. The two instrumentals are actually stunningly good; both imbuing the hauntingly beautiful acoustics segues of The Jester Race and Skydancer with “Pathos” being particularly brilliant. Of course the two are sandwiched the raucous bite of “Low” and the direct ass kicking of “District Divided”.

The last three tracks of the album “These Fevered Times”, “Paradise” and “Tranquil”, are the epitome of Darkest Hour’s newfound eloquence. Despite being undeniably Darkest Hour in their energetic prose and scathing musicianship, the melodic maturity of the band is front and center in high octane form for “These Fevered Times”, far more controlled and restrained for “Paradise” and a intelligently melded into album closing grandeur for “Tranquil” (which is anything but).

As I said above, Undoing Ruin greets it predecessor’s hype head on and looks down at it with a almost Neanderthal condescendence, shaking its head and its barbaric simplicity. This album is the perfect musical evolution for Darkest Hour, not too sweeping, but cleverly developed enough to warrant some severe end of year notice from the media and fans.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 21st, 2005

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