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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Darkest Hour

Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation

Review by Arnold Hablewitz

A little growling death metal/hardcore vocal can go a long way. It can be good when used sparingly. Unfortunately vocalist John Henry here only knows one trick, and he uses it over and over and over ad infinitum. To make matters worse, his vocals are mixed so far up in the mix that many times when there is good music being created (and these guys truly know how to do that) you have to really strain to hear it. The musicians in Darkest Hour are very talented and creative, but they are seriously limiting their potential with sticking with a one trick pony like Henry. I would strongly advise them to consider finding another vocalist, and next time around bring the instrumentals up further in the mix in comparison to the vocals - the music is great, let people hear it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Sadist Nation
This fast paced number is brutal hardcore tinged metal. It is definitely turbo charged, but features some tasty riffs and drumming that truly stands out.
Pay Phones and Pills
This is more what is thought of as black metal, though having a Brazillian band really kick things off is another surprise. You can tell Fenriz hasn't cleaned up the production on these cuts at all, as this sounds very under-produced by today's standards. Nevertheless, its a fast and nasty riff-fest that sounds a lot like a combo of Sodom and old Sepultura.
Oklahoma
This is another brutal onslaught. It's not bad, but really doesn't differ much from the rest of what we've heard. Until, that is, they turn it up for a short time into a technoish noisefest, then plod out in a slower and quite tasty segment.
March to the Killing Rhythm
Noisy feedback begins this, and the band quickly launch into another passage of fury that varies little from the rest of what is on show here, except that at points they launch into a bit of a tasty sounding jam. Somehow this works a bit better than some of the other material on the album. Again some of the guitar riffing calls to mind Metallica a bit.
The Misinformation Age
Another frantically paced screamer, this one has some interesting textures, but by this point the unchanging vocals are making it all seem the same. The delivery on this one just doesn't live up, although it includes some frantic riffing becoming faster and heavier as it carries on.
Seven Day Lie
This one comes in different, feeling quite melodic. The band creates a very promising musical texture here and show themselves capable of performing fast paced and nimble changes. It's just that by now the vocal performance, sounding exactly the same from one cut to another, really is starting to demand a change, at least for a song or two. How much unintelligible guttural growling can the listener take, and will this guy even be able to talk when he turns 40? With the way he sounds like he's torturing his vocal chords, I doubt it.
Accessible Losses
In a drastic change of pace - OK, that's not true. This is more of the frantic hardcore jamming that has made up the entire disc so far, and by this point it's really wearing thin.
The Patriot Virus
A meaty riff, feeling like a cross between Metallic and Sabbath, begins this, and the band rapidly works it over. It goes quite a while before the vocals enter, but I must say that they work better on this one than at any other point on the disc. This is one of the more effective, but still totally brutal cuts on show here.
Veritas, Aequitas
A crescendo brings this one in, then more musical arrangements that call to mind Metallica (feeling a lot like Ride The Lightning) take over. This starts down a very dynamic and creative path working through a lot of changes. It actually drops back to an acoustic jam after about four minutes, slowly moving forward from there. It jumps back up after a while, but that segment makes for a nice change of pace. Then after working through the harder elements for a couple of minutes a pretty piano (yes pretty and piano ARE used in this review) melody emerges, and the group reworks that through into a new satisfying jam. The piano returns to end the piece. At 12 ½ minutes in length, this is instrumental is by far the longest cut on the album and without question the best piece too, .It's amazing what these guys can do without those annoying, monotonous vocals hiding all the instrumentation. This is a talented bunch of guys, but as long as the stick with that vocalist people will never know it.
 
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