Darkest Hour Biography
Darkest Hour is a melodic death metal/metalcore band currently signed to Victory Records. The band is officially based in Washington, DC, but several of the members live in Richmond, Virginia. Their sound is akin to classic European metal acts such as At the Gates and In Flames, but it is noted for the incorporation of elements of punk and hardcore music. Over the years they have toured with many influential acts, including The Crown, ZAO, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Thrice, and Soilwork. They also played 2004's Ozzfest. History The band began as the conception of guitarist Mike Schleibaum. There were various member changes before a first line-up emerged and the band played its first show on September 23rd, 1995, when most of the members were still in high school. In addition to Mike Schleibaum, the original lineup consisted of vocalist John Henry, drummer Matt Maben, and bassist Raul Mayorga. This version of the band released much darker and slower brooding music compared to their current, melodic metal sound. Their original sound has been compared to bands such as Bloodlet and Damnation a.d., who were undoubtedly both influences. The band released its very first CD, The Misanthrope, in the summer of 1996 on tiny local label Death Truck Records. In 1998 Darkest Hour released another EP entitled The Prophecy Fulfilled, on the slightly-less-tiny DC label Art Monk Construction. The new EP marked the beginning of the evolution of Darkest Hour's sound, specifically the introduction of the Swedish metal influence. This sound solidified with the addition of drummer Ryan Parrish, bassist Billups Allen, and second guitarist Fred Ziomek, culminating in the band's first full-length LP, The Mark of the Judas, which was released in the summer of 2000. Because their sound has changed so much, the band tends to quietly ignore their first EPs and instead refers to The Mark of the Judas as "our first record". The Mark of the Judas was a major step for Darkest Hour, and many fans continue to say it is their favorite Darkest Hour album, but the record was not widely distributed or promoted because the label that released it, M.I.A. Records, went out of business shortly after the album's release. However, the band had garnered enough attention at that point to catch the ear of Victory Records, who scooped them up after M.I.A.'s collapse. Darkest Hour released their Victory debut, So Sedated, So Secure, in 2001. After the release of So Sedated, Billups was replaced by Paul Burnette on bass, and Fred also left the band. Darkest Hour continued to tour with Schleibaum's longtime friend Mike Garrity filling in on second guitar while they looked for a permanent replacement. When they finally accepted Ryan's old friend Kris Norris as the new permanent guitar player, they began to write the next record. Kris's influence on the songwriting caused a shift away from the band's hardcore influences to a more purely metal sound. This shift was amplified when the band chose to record their next album with noted Swedish metal producer Fredrik Nordström. As a result, 2003's Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation gained much more attention from the traditional metal scene, to the point that Darkest Hour was asked to play 2004's Ozzfest. Interestingly, even though Hidden Hands marks the decline of the band's hardcore influence, it is the first Darkest Hour album with overtly political lyrics, with several songs criticizing American militarism post-September 11th. Darkest Hour are notorious for on-stage ferocity, taut guitar interplay and enraged vocals that outline the hypocrisy and casual brutality of politics and society. Their prior releases on Victory Records set benchmarks in the genre as the band embraced the DIY ethics of the hardcore scene and the technical skill of metal, galvanizing their own path and earning fans from both sides of the fence. While Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation (2003) attacked the duplicity of government, So Sedated, So Secure (2001) skewered organized religion and rampant commercialism. On Undoing Ruin, the latest chapter in the Darkest Hour story, themes of healing and moving forward are prevalent. “It’s our first album that isn’t overtly political, though we did record “District Divided” which deals with the rapid gentrification in our hometown, Washington DC,” commented guitarist Mike Schleibaum, “The album is about change, personal and musical. The name, Undoing Ruin, fit the concept – it’s about making life worth living again.” Undoing Ruin was produced by Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad at Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver. Townsend, famous for his work in his own band as well his production role with Lamb of God and Soilwork, brought new definition to the signature Darkest Hour sound. “Unlike what some might think, Devin didn’t try to change our sound, but honed it, and helped us make a more concise album. He also was able to bring out the atmospheric side when it was needed and the shred side when it was called for.” explained Schleibaum. The result is an album that’s the most introspective and musically intricate work by the band to date, while maintaining their signature raw intensity. The band is still continuing to develop their sound as they work on their fourth album, entitled "Deliver Us". Also produced by Townsend, the album will be released on July 10th. The band will also be taking part in the 2007 Sounds of the Underground tour with GWAR, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, Every Time I Die, Job for a Cowboy, and many others. The bands new album "The Eternal Return" was released on June 23, 2009 on Victory Records. This is their last album they are under contract to produce with Victory.