Review Summary: Darkest Hour creates something rough and beautiful with their breakthrough fourth album.
Darkest Hour has done everything they possibly could have to avoid being lumped into the metalcore genre. They have always avoided breakdowns and general chugging in favor of Gothenburg inspired riffs and guitar solos, however there are two factors that seem to have hindered their bid for legitimacy: John Henry’s lyrics spoke of love and loss frequently and also the simple fact that they became a popular band with the younger generation at the time. This pigeon-holed them into touring with traditional metalcore bands, as that is where a majority of their fanbase lie, despite being more along the lines of thrash and melodic death metal. There is a silver lining to this, however, and that is the fact that Darkest Hour is a hell of a lot more popular than they would have been if they hadn’t connected with those fans. When listening to Undoing Ruin
you can see why they have that appeal in both melo-death and metal-core camps.
The most noticeable positive on Undoing Ruin
is guitarists Kris Norris and Mark Schleibaum undeniable chemistry. The two play off each other perfectly in every song, harmonizing perfectly and taking each song to the next level. They show off on occasion via solos, but never doing so to the point where it detracts from the melody of the song. The percussion by Ryan Parrish is mostly straight-forward but when given the opportunity to show off his skills he makes the most of it, creating interesting fills. The bass is actually audible in the mix, adding another layer to each song. Now the make or break point of the album is John Henry, whose rasp stays at one register throughout most of the album, with a notable exception being his speak-singing in Convalescence. Henry’s vocals would get annoying if not for the fact that they are delivered with such emotion and a sense of urgency that keeps his vocal lines interesting. Henry’s lyrics are a step above his contemporaries as well, due to the fact that he can write very smart political lyrics that don’t necessarily bludgeon you over the head with rhetoric, such as “District Divided,” while also writing very personal lyrics that hit home, like “With A Thousand Words To Say But One.”
All of these skills would be useless if the band couldn’t put together a coherent song, but Darkest Hour shows that not only can they write a coherent song, but a coherent album. Undoing Ruin
has something going for it that most albums don’t and that is the album’s flow. The songs are both distinct and unique yet the songs flow beautifully into one another, making the album so much more than just a collection of songs. There is no filler to be had on the album, although some songs rise above the rest. The aforementioned opener “With A Thousand Words To Say But One” is a perfect way to start off the album, with a quiet bridge that leads into a beautiful climax. “This Will Outlive Us” is one of the heaviest and fastest songs on the album, going full-speed and never letting go, and the closer “Tranquil” is a culmination of everything that the previous thirty minutes brought to the table, even ending the album with the same piece that started off “With A Thousand Words…”
shows off a band that knows their strengths lie in amazing riffs and an undeniable ear for melody. The album is flawlessly executed from front to back, and holds a lot of staying power. After this Darkest Hour would go on to create another near masterpiece in Deliver Us
before losing Kris Norris and struggling to regain their form. Through Undoing Ruin
you are brought on a hell of a ride, and by the time you hear the familiar passage at the end of “Tranquil” you will reach for the repeat button, maintaining the circle the album was created to be.