Review Summary: "So rest your head and close your eyes; just one more step 'till we're over the edge."”Who will free you?”
What exactly is an individual’s darkest hour
? Is it a figure of speech alluding to a past experience? Is it an unspecified amount of time when outside pressures are so insurmountably pressed against an individual that they could break – on the inside as well as on the outside? Does everyone have one? If so, what determines the intensity? Be it emotions, psychological predispositions, and the situations themselves, what causes our lowest of lows? I’m sure most of us have – or will – face a time in our lives when things are just too
much to bare. Some will press through, but others aren’t as fortunate; to those who never experience a phase such as this in their life, I say this: I envy you. For the rest of us though, what do we do to survive? Who will deliver us
when that time of our life begins?
Darkest Hour released Deliver Us
in 2007. In many ways, this is the band at their peak: the melodies – both on the guitar and those found in the vocals – are the band’s strongest yet; guitarists Kris Norris and Mike Schleibaum have stepped it up with this outing as well as many solos and impressive leads fill the majority of the tracks; finally, vocalist John Henry sounds passionate and relentless; his snarl wields urgency and agression as its weapon – a tool to carry the truth to the rest of a world buried in and overcome by the oppression of our inner demons. Deliver Us
carries a hefty burden on its shoulders; if you can imagine the weight of your own problems, imagine that added to the masses of the rest of the world. Is this the album that could be up to the task of addressing our issues, but more importantly, picking us up and sending us out to wage war against the hands of opposition so set on our demise?
Darkest Hour sets the mood for the album with what is essentially their strongest track to date. “Doomsayer(The Beginning of the End)” invites listeners in with a foreboding acoustic guitar. John enters with the initial riff, spinning a tale of hope and the process of overcoming the end while the band storms and rages war in the background. All the while, listeners are dragged and battered in the process – their weakened bodies squeezed of whatever remaining life might be left in their useless shells. When all seems lost, the bridge kicks: a head-banging riff ensues, and a guitar solo born of fire shoots and spins between a riff and drum interplay. Revitalized and against all odds, the listener is back on their feet, joining John in the momentous declaration: ”Who will free you? Look in the mirror!”
It's just the opening track, yet the listener is already ensnared by the band. What lays in store for the rest of the album?
The three-track run of “Demon(s)”, “An Ethereal Drain”, and “A Paradox with Flies” follow shortly thereafter, and as these tracks demonstrate, the band has discovered how to successfully walk the narrow line between melody and brutal play. If listeners aren’t screaming back the lines of these songs by the fourth play-through – both as a result of emotional passion, as well as catchiness – then you are welcome to disregard the rest of this review and anything I have stated thus far. Whereas “Demon(s)” is the single of the album – catchy and anthem-like in its delivery. “A Paradox with Flies” plays the role of a narrator, observing his own actions - or possibly the actions of another - and encourages the audience to reach and strive for more than what is initially settled for.
“Stand and Receive Your Judgment” and “Full Imperial Collapse” act as fast and energetic jaunts of aggression. Situated between these two tracks are “Tunguska” and “Fire in the Skies”: both of which recall the melodic death three-track run mentioned earlier. “Tunguska” makes references to a meteorite crash incident that occurred in Russia. The track is a process of riffs and relentless choruses; the highlight of the track, however, is the acoustic-solo-acoustic section near the end. “Fire in the Skies” is an anthem that calls listeners to awake and chastises them for their apathy: “So show me what it takes to fall asleep on the eve of destruction.”
A fist-in-the-air moment can be found in the bridge section where the guitars follow an altogether different trail as a call to arms riff takes prominence in the mix.
The call to awakening and renewal ends with the title track. In recent interviews, the band has stated that each final track on each of their albums is always a hint of what is to come on the next record. Taking this into consideration, it comes as no surprise that the finale contains some of the best work from Kris and Mike as the band pursued a more guitar-technical sound with their recent album. Once again, the bridge is of particular interest where the duo spin and cross over and under each other with a fantastic solo before John comes in for the final line: ”Only when you're through fleeing can you save yourself…deliver us.”
John couldn’t have closed off the album in a better way. The line references and sums up the main idea and theme of Deliver Us
: listeners are encouraged to take control of the situation, grab a hold of their demons, and deliver themselves without aid. Darkest Hour doesn't point the finger at a high power – God, politicians, authority. No, the band points the finger at themselves and all of us as individual people. Deliver Us
is Darkest Hour at their best thus far; the music is technical, melodic, and as evidenced by the consistent theme, cohesive. If ever you find yourself in your darkest hour
, turn on Deliver Us
and answer the question of who will free you for yourself:
"Look in the mirror!"