DARKEST HOUR, one of the truly great modern metal bands, finds itself on its fourth label in as many albums. Quizzically the band is now on Southern Lord, the label apparently is expanding its horizons. Not that DARKEST HOUR can’t roll here, but the band is hardly the same doomed-up, crunked-out, droning, blackened beast Southern Lord usually endorses. Cheers for that, since DARKEST HOUR has remained modestly heralded masters over a category they don’t necessarily belong to, metalcore. Its latest album “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora” is and is not a metalcore record, but more importantly, it’s one of DARKEST HOUR‘s mightiest achievements to date.
With a squelching peal, DARKEST HOUR tears through “Knife in the Safe Room”, rumbling and flailing like a pit berserker. The speed is no surprise, nor is the inevitable time-dropping breakdown (shoved toward the end of the song, nice touch), all of which is executed flawlessly. “Knife in the Safe Room” is a fast and exciting opener picked up by an even quicker velocity on “This Is the Truth”. John Henry‘s raspy, yelping vocals are more sinister than on past albums, but the omnipresent spirit of melody—in this case, somber—gives “This Is the Truth” a refined touch. The slowdowns don’t interfere, they provide an opportunity to display alluring guitar weaves and Aaron Deal‘s fertilizing bass, which sprouts into a bountiful guitar solo from Mike Schleibaum. Without contrast, save for more delicate textures outside of the clubbing thrash, DARKEST HOUR discharges a rebuttal number a couple songs later on the album, including “None of This Is the Truth”. The latter is corked by one of the album’s most exquisite climaxes.
“Timeless Numbers” is a trickier track with impressive progressions including Travis Orbin‘s blast bursts amid the marching intro lines. The beat smashing through the verses pants its way to the looming, ornate bridges and bursts into bellowing choruses. The solo section from Mike Schleibaum and Michael “Lonestar” Carrigan is as breathtaking as the watertight time changes, and this remains the theme throughout “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora”: resolute professionalism.
“The Flesh & the Flowers of Death” is structured in a fashion similar to its predecessors, yet its rampant infernos, regardless of what tempo is fanning them, chars right through the ear canals and targets the listener’s soul. The guitar solos are as decorative as the poignant melodies. “Those Who Survived” and “Another Headless Ruler of the Used” reaffirm the album’s songwriting primer, which can either be looked upon as fault or stoically playing to the band’s strengths. The listener will be too caught up in DARKEST HOUR‘s whipping maelstroms to take much notice.
Smartly giving the listener a chance to inhale with the pirouetting instrumental, “Widower”, if you weren’t already a fan of Schleibaum and Carrigan, then you’ll be fully sold here. DARKEST HOUR maintains the pause over its thrash bombs on “Enter Oblivion”, which sturdily builds through skulking passages, raising massive, mid-tempo erections for “The Last of the Monuments”. When the latter does burst, DARKEST HOUR checks things down with a prevailing, melodic tide. Once again this band electrifies by its intelligent progressions and pleasurable harmony.
If DARKEST HOUR after all this time still has to be considered a metalcore act, then metalcore itself must answer to them. No matter the pedigree of other veteran acts like ALL THAT REMAINS or KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (respect given to both), this is the band who rules this style. The blazing “In the Name of Us All” is far more monstrous and far more ‘core than most of DARKEST HOUR‘s contemporaries. After all, this is a band originating from the same turf as hardcore legends MINOR THREAT, GOVERNMENT ISSUE and DAG NASTY. This album isn’t just a statement piece: it’s full-on reclamation of this band’s honor.