Darkest Hour
The Mark of the Judas


3.5
great

Review

by Lelle USER (5 Reviews)
September 27th, 2009 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Darkest Hour start off their long career with a strong debut album

Darkest Hour was:
John Henry - Vocals
Fred Ziomek - Guitars
Mike Schleibaum - Guitars
Billups Allen - Bass
Ryan Parrish - Drums

Darkest Hour is one of the most consistent yet underrated metalcore/melodic death metal bands playing today. Despite having been together as a band for 14 years and releasing their debut album, The Mark of the Judas, around nine years ago, Darkest Hour seem to have a relatively small fan base when comparing to similar acts. Which is perhaps a good thing, since Darkest Hour has been known to release albums of the same, consistently high quality throughout their career, without ever (obviously) trying to sell their sound or please any other hardcore kids than themselves. So, how does The Mark of the Judas hold up against their qualitative discography? Let’s investigate a bit closer:

Guitarists Fred Ziomek and Mike Schleibaum do a good job at creating a consistently aggressive mood throughout the album, instantly displayed in opening track For the Soul of the Savior. Though playing harmonic minor melodies in drop c tuning, they manage to make the guitar work stand out above your average chugging metalcore band by using an extra dose aggressiveness and speed, never allowing the music to bog down or get stuck, but constantly adding momentum to the songs and making them move forward. To achieve this, they use a mix of melodious guitar work reminiscent of melodic death metal, with perhaps a tad too much tremolo picking, a few power chords, and a great use of rhythm to separate the riffs from each other and make them memorable, without ever falling back on basic chugging. Also, some thrash influences can be found in the relentless intensity of the songs and the generally rigid tempos throughout.

Though the guitar work could be seen as slightly repetitive in a few parts, one must not forget that there is more to a band than its guitars, and this is where vocalist John Henry comes into play. His raw and aggressive, phlegm filled yell together with some well written lyrics create vocal hooks aplenty, that together with the musical work of the band create several intense moments that easily stick in your head, but without ever making the music offensively trying to fight its way in there like so many of those oh-let’s-try-to-be-as-irritatingly-catchy-as-we-can bands do.

Together with John’s vocals, Ryan Parrish’s drumming is the true highlight of this album, and it contains some of my favourite work by him. While, especially on later albums, Ryan has had a tendency to fall back on double bass and blast beats a little to often, here the patterns both varied and pleasing, and together with plenty of different fills it adds up to some really solid drumming. And not only is the drumming solid, it is well integrated with the guitar work as well. From the bouncy rhythms of Eclipse to the various fills in A Blessing In Tragedy, the drumming does more than serving as a mere rhythmic backbone, but both matches and even adds to the already intense guitar work and to the catchiness of the songs themselves.

As for problems with the album, there are just a few. The bassist Billups Allen is pretty much drowned out in the mix and doesn’t do too many interesting things. Another potential problem is the vocals, as John Henry uses the same yell throughout, which can get grating towards the end of the album. The same can be said about the guitar work. Though solid, the album could have used a little bit more contrast between tracks. People who often listen to metalcore may also find that the album sounds a bit generic. This is unfortunately due to imitators within the genre. Riffs found in For the Soul of the Savior and A Blessing in Tragedy, to mention a few tracks, have recognizable younger counterparts in songs by bands such as As I Lay Dying and Atreyu.

In conclusion, The Mark of the Judas is a generally solid, thrash influenced metalcore album, albeit suffering from being a bit outdated (which, really, isn’t that surprising in an oversaturated genre full of imitators). Despite that, and some general repetitiveness and lack of contrast between tracks, I do recommend this release to anyone who is a fan of Darkest Hour, melodic death metal, thrash, or well, metal in general. Catchiness may be a subjective thing, but I find it hard to believe that there are many people who won’t be gripped by the fast and sometimes incredibly catchy guitar work and drumming coupled with John Henry’s aggressive, pissed off vocal performance. So, this is good, you ask? Yes! It’s great, and I wouldn’t even hesitate to say that it is excellent if it weren’t for the fact that you gotta be a bit objective with these review things. The Mark of the Judas definitely holds its own place in Darkest Hour’s discography.

Recommended, with a strong 3,5/5

Favourite Tracks
For The Soul of The Savior
The Legacy
Part II
Eclipse
The Mark Of The Judas


user ratings (108)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Lelle
September 27th 2009


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

second review, neg me if you hated it

Ponton
Emeritus
September 27th 2009


5819 Comments


I'm certainly a fan of their latter albums so I'll need to check this out.

Good review and quite detailed as well! pos'd


Edit: Might want to mention that many users here may say this is too long.

Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

Endzeit
September 27th 2009


28 Comments


Have'nt heard this yet only the last 3 albums, but band is pretty solid.

EasternLight
September 27th 2009


2704 Comments


i love this review, almost as much as i love you. ooo e = mc squared, u must be smart

Phantom
September 27th 2009


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. This album rules but it's sightly different from the melodic direction they took on their later albums.

KYZAR
September 27th 2009


513 Comments


WAY too long. but still really good.

Lelle
September 28th 2009


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

aight, I cut two paragraphs and shortened a few others, should look a little better now

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2009


17231 Comments


FOR THE SOUL OF THE SAVIOR!

rasputin
September 28th 2009


14555 Comments


album's all right

Fapper
September 28th 2009


649 Comments


Album was fun back when. It's pretty boring now though..

Lelle
September 28th 2009


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

be that as it may, but no-one can disagree with that For the Soul of the Savior is a fucking awesome song

Lelle
March 15th 2010


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

seems like they could^^ dated as it may be, I still dig this album a lot

IRAI
March 15th 2010


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album's legit.

i prefer their earlier stuff to now, but it's all good.

'So Sedated, So Secure' is their best album they've made, imo.

Lelle
March 15th 2010


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh? I think it's their worst, just bland and... uninspired. My favourite is probably Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation

IRAI
March 15th 2010


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love hidden hands, thats the album that got me into them, but i can really dig their rawer(?) more hardcore/metalcore aspects they had on this and so sedated, so secure.

you cant really compare their transition into metal (Hidden Hands and on) with their earlier stuff.

i mean, you can really hear their shifting in trends as it goes along album to album:

MOTJ- almost metalcore with some solos but not many.

SS,SS- more emphasis on the riffs and solos ,and more complex, traditional heavy metal drumming being implemented (the perfect blend was here)

HHOASN - totally metall'd the fuck out like almost 180'd from so sedated , but its shredtastic and though it still held some hardcore/metalcore aspects, the scales tipped from metalcore to metal on that one.

UR - totally refining their metalage with crisper soloing and faster metalcore incorporation. sort of like reverting back to their more metalcore beginnings but with WAY better solos. my 2nd fav album.

DU- them getting in-tuned to the more melodic gothenburg aspects that were influencing them. especially accentuated with the harsh/melodic sing a long stick in your head choruses.

TER- they lost Kris Norris here, but they still managed to refine the melo-death gothenburg a bit more.

DH is one of my top 10 bands ever and i care a shit ton about them. XD

Lelle
March 15th 2010


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

same here, there is something that is just so listenable and constantly awesome about them. Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation got some really badass lyrics

Lelle
April 7th 2010


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gah I had forgotten how awesome this album was... bumped to a 4

IRAI
April 7th 2010


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

heh...

Lelle
August 15th 2010


2156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah

Nikkolae
August 15th 2010


4870 Comments


this sounds like something i would enjoy so ima go and download it

Digging: Modern Witch - Unknown Domain



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