Known for their mixture of Hardcore and Melodic Death Metal, Darkest Hour have been one of the longest lasting bands to survive the mid-2000s metalcore scene, putting out solid records for their 22 years as a band. While being one of the pioneers of modern metalcore and touring with a vast array of bands ranging from Unearth to Gwar, they never really seemed to achieve the success they deserved.
Since their 2007 album Deliver Us, which hit the perfect balance between their hardcore and metal roots, and the loss of their longtime lead guitarist Kriss Norris, Darkest Hour have been in a bit of a crisis regarding where they should go musically. Their next album The Eternal Return (2009) saw them going for a more aggressive sound, reminiscent of their earlier material, while The Human Romance (2011) brought their Melodic Death Metal influence to the forefront, and, while these albums were worthwhile additions to their discography, they seemed to be missing something.
However, in the eyes of many fans, the band didn’t make their first major misstep until their 2014 self-titled album, which they released on Sumerian Records. Even with a new bassist and drummer (ex-Periphery drummer Travis Orbin), Darkest Hour delivered an album that watered down their aggression and songwriting, with a large amount of chugging and clean vocals reminiscent of modern metalcore. While this album was their highest charting to date, the reaction from longtime fans was mixed to say the least.
When Darkest Hour released the first track, Knife in the Safe Room, in 2016 o promote their latest album, Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora, it was apparent that Darkest Hour felt that they had something to prove with this album, as this track delivered thrashy riffs, a driving rhythm section and an impassioned vocal performance by John Henry. The question was if their new album would reach that standards this song and their previous albums set, or whether they would continue along their newer, softer path.
Luckily, Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora is their best album in years, bringing back the balance between metalcore and hardcore shown on Deliver Us with a sheer amount of aggression unseen by the band since Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation.
The following tracks, This is the Truth and Timeless Numbers, are longer, riff-focused, tracks that show their melodic death metal influence, and show off some of the more impressive soloing the band has done. Further standouts of the album include tracks The Flesh and the Flowers of Death, with an introduction reminiscent of Gojira, and Those Who Survived, which sounds like a track off Hidden Hands of the Sadist Nation updated for 2017.
Darkest Hour mix it up throughout the remainder of the album, with the acoustic Widowed serving to break the album up and Enter Oblivion being a a mid-placed plodding number with considerable power behind it. The track In the Name of Us All is a late contender for best song on the album, being the fastest and most aggressive song present with John Henry giving his angriest vocal performance of the last several years.
Darkest Hour have always been a guitar focused band, with it being the most integral part of their sound since the bands inception, with this album being no exception, seeing guitarists Mike Schleibaum and Michael Carrigan deliver some of the most jagged riffs of their career, giving the album a more aggressive feel. The inclusion of Travis Orbin into the bands lineup finally pays off in this album, with his blast beats and fills throughout giving the rhythm section a far more interesting and intricate sound than expected for Darkest Hour. Unfortunately, the mix of this album (engineered by Kurt Ballou of Converge) focuses on the guitars, leaving the bass buried in the mix somewhat, with Aaron Deal not being given much of an opportunity to show off, but still delivers a consistent performance.
While this album is not Darkest Hour reinventing the wheel, Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora is a stunning return to form by focusing on their strengths while bringing in new elements into their sound, showing that they still have the ability to surprise fans 20 years into their career.