Darkest Hour – Darkest Hour (Sumerian)

Sunday, 3rd August 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

When a band as far into their career as Darkest Hour release a self-titled album, you know there is going to be a purpose behind it. The band’s eighth full-length is bound to split the factions of their fan base into a love it/hate it rampage (if it hasn’t already with the pre-released tracks). While it’s still clearly a Darkest Hour record if you dissect the nuts and bolts of it, there are some changes that some will have a hard time accepting.

So how does Darkest Hour differ compared to the band’s previous efforts? Well, you will hear more clean vocals than you’ve ever heard from the band, and some tracks mark a huge deviation from the ‘core’ Darkest Hour sound (you know, thrashy melodic death metal/metalcore). The biggest culprit is “By the Starlight,” which features some female vocals from Draemings in a ballad-esque acoustic opening duet before firing off into more ‘traditional’ DH territory later on. A big jump for the band experimentally, but it’s one of the strongest songs on the album with it’s lush atmosphere and beauty. Then there is the super-melodic chorus of closer “Departure,” the more rock-ish structure of “Futurist,” and the All That Remains-y “The Misery We Make.”

Even with the experimenting that the band displays on Darkest Hour, they wisely keep their roots intact. Traditional Darkest Hour thrashers abound with tracks like “Infinite Eyes,” “Rapture in Exile,” “Lost For Life,” and “Beneath the Blackening Sky.” You may notice some clean vocals, but it’s nothing the band hasn’t toyed with in the past. This gives Darkest Hour some needed diversity (which has been lacking on some previous albums) and proves the band is still capable of writing some thrashy material every bit as vicious as past efforts.

It’s admirable to see a band so deep in their career come out with something that shakes up the status quo a bit. It would have been easy for the band to rest on their laurels and put out ‘yet another Darkest Hour album’ and appease longtime fans. While it’s sure to cause some to cry foul at its commercial leanings, it’s tactfully done without the band sacrificing who they are musically. Welcome to a new era of Darkest Hour!

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