Review Summary: This record could so start numerous genre arguments.
I can see it all now; hundreds of posts and an upwards of ten pages with everyone repeating themselves. Yes indeed this could turn into another thread of everyone arguing over the genre of music Darkest Hour plays. But we don’t want that to happen now do we" For a band that is often labeled generic and pseudo metal Darkest Hour can sometimes be a tricky outfit to sum up. They play a hardcore influenced style of metal, yet I would hesitate to label them as metalcore. Their vocals are delivered in a harsh manner ninety percent of the time and their guitarists throw down melody laced riffs and solos, yet I would hesitate to label them as melodic death metal. They can shout and pound out unrelenting straightforward tracks, yet I would hesitate to label them thrash. Regardless of what genre Darkest Hour falls into, their latest release Deliver Us
showcases their sound in a very successful manner. Influences and sounds range from all of the above as the group delivers a powerful and surprisingly consistent and varied record.
Right from the opening of the record listeners get a sense that the guitarists have improved. Darkest Hour’s six stringers have never really been known to deliver super technical parts. Rather, they place a strong emphasis on melody and craft some extremely memorable riffs. Deliver Us
reveals that the guitarists can not only lay down some beautiful riffs but can now compliment them with incredible solos and leads. Both the quantity and the quality of the solos is pleasantly surprising. Opening track “Doomsayer”
features a terrific solo which features an Avenged Sevenfold influence in terms of the main run, and even ends with a wonderful harmony. A later track “Tunguska”
does so much right. Its 5:32 length is a massive number for the band and it showcases their improvements in terms of songwriting as it never becomes dull or repetitive. The middle of the track is complete with some breathtaking acoustic melodies before things charge into an absolutely gorgeous and epic lead. It drips with emotion while ripping with speed showing guitar improvement in full effect. Despite the massive praise regarding the solos and leads, the guitarists grab your attention even when they put their flashiness on hold. “Stand and Receive Your Judgment”
is a straightforward track with a fast tempo and a thrash feel to it. It gives listeners a kick to the groin for two and a half minutes straight; not changing tempos, not softening up. The emphasis on the guitars is undeniable throughout the record and their improvements make things work extremely successfully.
Unfortunately, with the majority of the focus instrumentally on the guitars, the rhythm section takes the backseat. Bass is practically inaudible throughout the record but then again this is a metal(ish) album and Victory Records so I wasn’t expecting anything else. However, drums ended up a little disappointing. Throughout the record the recycled pattern of snare kick snare kick graces every single song and plenty of times the double pedal is overused. Fills comes out once in awhile but some more variation in general patterns would have certainly been appreciated. This is shown in “Fire in the Skies”
as some slightly new patterns are introduced and more fills are present. Throughout the record talent is very obvious but a little more in terms of variety would have been very much appreciated. In the end the rhythm section, while repetitive, certainly is satisfactory for the styles present on the record and certainly will not make or break your opinion of Deliver Us
What will or at least has potential to make or break your opinion is the vocal work. With guitars cranking out solos left and right now, this could quite possibly raise the eyebrows of fans of traditional metal fans. Unfortunately, I can see vocalist John Henry having the opposite effect on them. His often times phlegm filled yell is definitely a distinguishable voice in metal today. While it has been known to turn many off, on this record especially it adds so much in terms of dynamics to the music. He has really learned how to fully control his voice and the result is a more polished effort I feel and never becomes disgusting or gruesome to listen to. This atop of the increasingly melodic guitars can create some beautiful atmospheres. The first single “Demon(s)”
really captures and locks in this atmosphere. It features some beautiful textures and even features some slightly less harsh vocal work in the chorus. While it is not singing, it is certainly a step towards it. However, the best part of John’s vocal style is the multiple effects it has on the music. On some of the more aggressive songs such as “Full Imperial Collapse”
his voice adds to the brutal nature of the song and makes it a haymaker where otherwise it would be a mere jab. His growling during the bridge is a knockout punch, perfectly delivered and served to perfection. For a vocalist that has a moderately confined range it is remarkable how he can have diverse effects on the sounds, moods and atmospheres present on the record.
Darkest Hour’s Deliver Us
was a very pleasant surprise in terms of progression and improvement for them. There was increased attention and focus on melody for plenty of the songs, and this along with their unique vocal style really added a lot in terms of atmosphere for the record. Solos came hard and came often, really showcasing the individual improvements from the guitarists. On some of the more brutal tracks Darkest Hour proves they have not lost their ability to craft some straightforward and brutal thrash influenced numbers with John Henry’s unique growls and yells leading the way. The whole album seems to build up to the title track which ends things on an incredible note. Every positive aspect of the record is shown; brutality, melody, impressive guitar work on both ends, similar yet solid rhythms, unique vocals, and impressive song writing. Its last crescendo builds to an epic ending closing a record which deserves some time and attention. Deliver Us
shows a level of variety never before present on a Darkest Hour release and proves that merely dismissing them as another run of the mill Victory Records ‘core’ bands is unacceptable.
-Fire in the Skies
Final Rating: 4/5