I commend Darkest Hour for growing on every album while still maintaining a signature sound of harsh screams and thrashy-melodic guitar work. Some more clean vocals have been added to the mix, less as an experiment this time around than on Undoing Ruin. While some reviewers here complain about this new addition, I feel that they are blended seamlessly into the mix and actually add more intensity to the overall effect. While some bands seem to be making huge changes on their latest albums (Poison The Well, Slipknot), DH has managed to change just enough to keep each album unique without disappointing their fans with a complete overhaul. I feel that this is probably the best album to date (although Mark of Judas will probably always be my favorite). In fact, this is one of the better metal albums I’ve heard this year.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Darkest Hour’s fifth full-length, “Deliver Us”, is yet another strong album by this band. Devin Townsend did a nice job producing this album, I must say, but let’s get to the music.
“Deliver Us” is a melodic metal album that shows definite progression for the band. The guitars give out more of an epic feel, but are still very similar in the vein of their previous days. John Henry still stands out as a vocalist, and even with singing vocals (which he uses sparingly), he’s still intense and stands out well. The best element of “Deliver Us” is the guitar work. Tracks such as “An Ethereal Drain” and “Doomsayer” demonstrate the excellence of guitarists Kris Norris and Mike Scheliebaum that they still carry on. “Stand and Receive Your Judgment” and “Sanctuary” are songs that won’t disappoint for those who liked their more speed-oriented “Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation” days. “Demon(s)”, the first single, has a catchy chorus and guitar riff. “Tunguska” is a perfect example of a more “epic” track. This CD is able to keep its variety, yet it doesn’t disappoint.
Check this out if you’re into melodic metal. If you’re a Darkest Hour fan, you may notice the change, but listen to it a few times and it’ll grow on you. Darkest Hour has progressed well during their years as a band, and “Deliver Us” is proof.
I first started listening to Darkest Hour when my buddy sent me a few of their songs off their last album, Undoing Ruin. I quickly became addicted to songs like Convalescence and These Fevered Times and began looking up more of the band’s decently sized discography. I liked their style of harsh vocals and the lyrics themselves were very catchy and fairly clear (for a metalcore band anyway). In their newest release, Deliver Us, Darkest Hour has expanded their horizons and put together a solid album that will please fans of their previous albums, as well as give them a little something different.
First of all, it seems they’ve experimented with much clearer, sung vocals, rather than the constant gravelly vocals that their previous albums contained. Usually, I’m pretty against bands doing this to their vocals, but in this case, it’s not so extreme that it takes away from the older style that I originally liked. Songs such as “Sanctuary” and “Demon(s)” feature choruses that are more sung than screamed, but still rely heavily on the screaming vocals for verses and remainder of the song. These songs are a careful blend of singing/screaming that really worked for me: you can still tell it’s Darkest Hour, but there’s a definite destinction between this album and other releases. It also seemed to me that in “Stand and Receive Your Judgement”, the vocals played around with a little heavier, death metal style of growling when building into the chorus, which I liked a lot. The vocals have been played around with slightly in this album, but not all songs are tinkered with in this way. “Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)” and “Fire in the Sky” are everything I’ve come to expect from Darkest Hour: hard, fast, in-your-face style metalcore, and an all-around catchy songs. These could have easily blended into their last album, and are very reminiscent of the older releases.
Vocals aside, the instrumentation and technicality of their music has improved as well. Guitar solos are much more abundant and hard-hitting than before, and the all around guitar within the songs is MUCH clearer and more distinguished. Many of the songs are very fast-paced (“Full Imperial Collapse” and “Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)”), which is much like Darkest Hour of yore, however, songs such as “A Paradox with Flies” and “An Ethereal Drain” move at a much slower pace. These songs still deliver, in my opinion, but on a different level. These tracks contain more of actual singing than screaming and a lot more instrumentation. Kind of a new look for Darkest Hour, but it’s not bad. Some of the lyrics, especially in “A Paradox With Flies”, can get kinda sappy, but take it at face value and it’s still damn good music.
Some of the songs tended to run on the shorter side however, which was slightly disappointing. “Sanctuary” and “Stand and Receive Your Judgement” seemed like they were over before the should be. They were both good songs, but I tend to shun away from tracks that are under three minutes or so, just because even if they are good, they seem like they’re finished too early. I wasn’t a huge fan of the instrumentation track on this album either (“The Light at the Edge of the World”). It’s just kind of waning guitar work with some talking in the background that’s almost inaudible and hard to understand. I think the album could have done without that track and still stand fine. A bit on the shorter side maybe, but still worth listening to.
My Top 3:
3. “Stand and Receive Your Judgement” – Face-paced, hard-hitting, all-around good song. I liked the experimenting with heavier vocals in here as well. The intro instrumentation reminded me slightly of Destroy The Runner, but I may be the only one to see that, hah.
2. “Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)” – Nice, slow intro into the CD, but builds itself up very quickly. A very fast tempo-ed song that will definately please hardcore Darkest Hour fans.
1. “Fire in the Sky” – This is definately a signature style song for Darkest Hour. It contains everything I’ve come to expect from Darkest Hour: fast, harsh vocals, catchy lyrics, and nifty guitar licks. This track delivers more however, with crystal clear instrumentation and awesome guitar work throughout the song, with a very nice solo about 1:40 in. Awesome song!
In closing, Darkest Hour’s newest album has stayed true to their original style, while taking small, but necessary, steps towards new ideas. A band that released album after album that sounded exactly the same, regardless of whether I liked the first album or not, would get really old. New vocal styles and an increased focus on technicality has made this a fresh album to listen to, while still giving me what I expect from these guys. I hear some complaining about this album and how Darkest Hour is “selling out” to a singing style and shunning away their harsh vocals which many fans have come to love. To those that claim this, listen to my top 3. If you’re still disappointed, then you’re not a true Darkest Hour fan as far as I’m concerned. This is definately an album that metalcore fans and metal fans alike should pick up. Solid album by a solid band!
That was the first word that I could say when the opening track for Darkest Hour’s fifth true full length kicked off. If “Doomsayer” isn’t the closest thing to classic In Flames that’s been released since the birth of metalcore, I don’t know what is. Opening with acoustic guitar work that explodes into a mid-paced drum groove with shades of Gothenburg leads underneath, the song quickly becomes a straight In Flames cut when they kick it into overdrive. The lead work is strong and the growls are true. No melodic sing-song chorus here, just brutality. From the melodic breakdown to the syncopated rhythm section that lead into an excellent solo, the song is trademark In Flames and, despite all of that, is actually quite good.
The opening track gives you a good idea of what Deliver Us is all about. Darkest Hour has grown as a band through the years and I believe are beginning to reach their full level of maturity with this disc. The Gothenburg influences have become their sound yet, they manage to remain unrelenting in their crushing riffs and speed. I have to give credit to John Henry for limiting his melodic vocal approach on the disc in a time when everyone in this scene is singing every chorus (including In Flames!). I wouldn’t mind seeing him back off even more though and let the music do all of the talking though. This style of music has always been about the guitar work.
“Doomsayer” is followed by a short burst of energy called “Sanctuary” which has a brief glimpse of a melody in the vocals but is buried quickly. “Demon(s)” then kicks in and that pure Gothenburg sound returns. The lead that takes over after the breakdown isn’t cheese laden, like most metalcore, but powerful and emotive. This album is truly a testament to the influence that those classic bands have had on modern metal.
Henry’s guttural vocals, in spots, recall Devin Townsend which may be due to his production
The strength of this band is found when they allow themselves to explore in their longer songs. When they have time to flesh out a melody or lead into a new section, the songs truly breathe and emote what they’re looking for. Where “Stand and Receive Your Judgment” fails, the epic feeling “Tunguska” succeeds in spades. Pay attention to the breakdown whose progression shows hints of Opeth. “A Paradox with Flies” is another strong track while “The Light at the Edge of the World” is both thoughtful and brief.
“Full Imperial Collapse” may be the only miss on the album and that’s only because it leaves behind the Gothenburg mold for a more EveryTimeIDie style of dirty hardcore. It’s not a terrible song but it doesn’t fit the sound of the album.
If you’re looking for an album that is a return to 1995, this is the disc for you. Don’t be misled of confused; this is metal with hardcore influence, not the other way around. Despite the fact that the album leans heavily toward the Gothenburg sound and borrows from early In Flames–the song writing is incredibly tight and leads are delicious.
For Fans of: In Flames, At The Gates, Arch Enemy
This is Darkest Hour’s second album produced by Devin Townsend. He did an amazing job with the experimentation of “Undoing Ruin”. What they learned working together on that album really comes out in “Deliver Us”. Its almost a masterpiece. The guitar playing stands out the most. Townsend really focused on Kris Norris and Mike Scheliebaum. Amazing solos are all over the place. The drumming and bass is as expected of Darkest Hour -excellent time changes. Together they pulled off an atmosphere that will make this a classic metal album.
Now here is where musicianship comes in. Darkest Hour has grown a lot since “So Sedated..” and they are able to pull off a more epic sound. John Henry had to EVOLVE his vocals to fit. His screams and growls still dominate the album. He has only added another element to his vocals. Kinda like what Matt Heafy had to do with Trivium when they put out the Crusade, except not nearly as extreme.
IN RESPONSE TO OTHER REVIEWS:
There are always those “original” fans that cling on to the old school and reject the new. Yet they fail to make any comparisons between the two sounds. Darkest Hour has been playing this style of metal since they were kids. “Deliver Us” is a progression of that style -the band did not take on a new sound. If I did not follow this band I would assume that “Deliver Us” came before “Undoing Ruin”, as it actually ties “..Sadist Nation” and “Undoing Ruin” together. If you loved either one of those albums then you will like this one.
When I first listened to the album and the song Demons came on i thought “what? is john trying to sing?”. I was really bored by the chorus on that track. The assumption by the so-called old schoolers is that Darkest Hour is selling out, going main stream, blah blah whine poop mommy whyyyy -But if they were a little more opened minded about the new album instead of expecting the band cover something that was already done ten years ago, they would realize that John is only syncing himself in with the atmosphere Townsend was trying to create. And despite watering down the track Demons, he did an excellent job on the rest of the album. There are parts where growling just would not work. The track A Paradox With Flies is a good example of this.
Stand And Receive Your Judgment is the strongest track on this album for those who like the earlier stuff.
Tungusta is the best example of their evolution for those who were more in to their last two albums.
Five stars. Buy this album. See you at Sounds of the Underground.