How often is it that a band puts out their best album 22 years into their career? Let me answer that for you; never. Typically a band’s earliest work is revered by fans as gospel with later albums sometimes feeling like unwelcome additions. However, Darkest Hour have turned this trend on its head with their most recent release, Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora.
If you have any familiarity with the DC metal scene or 2000s metalcore in general, you’ve likely already formed some opinion on Darkest Hour. Whatever you feel about them, it’s hard to deny their consistency in output. Forming in 1995, the band has put out seven quality records and then a kind-of-meh, self-titled project in 2014.
With respect to the band’s sound, they have remained fairly undeviating from their melodic death metal and metalcore roots. Often lumped in with contemporaries such as Killswitch Engage, I have always found their music to be more nuanced and technical (read: better) than other artists within their genre. I’ve found that the description “a more Americanized version of At The Gates” has suited Darkest Hour well.
As is the case with many bands who have been around for two decades, Darkest Hour have gone through several lineup shifts. In 2014, only two members of the original lineup remained for their self-titled Sumerian Records debut. The album has become widely regarded as the group’s weakest effort thus far. Fans blamed this on a combination of factors ranging from the new lineup to pressure from Sumerian to change their sound.
To say that Darkest Hour righted the ship with this year’s Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora is an understatement. It’s exceedingly uncommon for a band this far into their career to sound so reinvigorated after such a dud of an album. It’s immediately clear from the opening seconds of “Knife in the Safe Room” that the group took the criticism leveled at their last project very seriously. The song instantly sets the breakneck pace that rarely lets up throughout the twelve tracks.
The songwriting throughout the project is top-notch with excellent solos and breakdowns in all the right places. In addition to the killer composition, the band’s vocals and instruments have never sounded more gnarly. Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora just so happens to be Darkest Hour’s first collaboration with production genius Kurt Ballou of Converge. Definitely not a coincidence.
This album is definitely going to be in some best of 2017 lists, so don’t sleep on it! Also, if you’re in the DC area, they’re going to be playing a hometown show at the Rock & Roll Hotel on July 14th. We will see you in the pit.
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