Let it be known before we kick off this review: Darkest Hour has created a terrific record worthy of high praise.
Metalcore can sometimes be a dirty term nowadays, but when a band does the genre right, it comes off damn impressive. Darkest Hour’s ninth studio release Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora (Southern Lord) is an album that fuses feelings old and new. The hardcore aggressive flow that blends with catchy and melodic sections take the best of two worlds. Darkest Hour has done quite a bit of jumping around when it comes to labels. It is here where they have appeared to have found their best footing, building off their heavy melodies in the past and going right to the core of savage delivery. Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora is also a testament to the band’s skills as they’ve progressed in their career. Taking aspects from the past to either grow them out, or abandon them to tread new paths, Darkest Hour has reached a level of heaviness they cab be proud of.
One major factor about this work is how incredibly good it sounds. The combination of drive behind each individual in the band and producer Kurt Ballou makes for an outstanding and clear collection of songs that will impress fans. Travis Orbin’s drumming comes calculated for the right moments of superb heaviness, while Mike Carrigan and Mike Schleibaum drop in with slick and beautiful melodies to balance the relentless speed. The guitars, along with Aaron Deal’s bass work, are also responsible for powerful rhythms that fill with a deepness, building up throughout the progression of each song. It’s also worth noting that back in the day guitarist Kris Norris makes a return to add upon these elements. There’s a lot going on with this record between the melodies and overall hardcore beat-downs, and instead of it feeling like everything is all over the place, the music presents a band that knows how to master their craft. John Henry provides a strong overall presence in vocals, bringing blistering screams and inflection throughout his voice to balance alongside instrumentation. Lyricism maintains an angry and poetic edge, taking on the approach to reflect humanity’s current condition in the world. Unlike the band’s previous self-titled record, there is maybe 1% of clean vocals here, along with rare instrumentally light moments. Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora goes for the old school hardcore notion, along with elements of death and thrash metal at times.
“Knife in the Safe Room” begins with a drumming assault taking place, followed by racing guitar rhythms and flying vocals. This breaks to introduce a brief and more melodic section that acts as a breather, all before bringing in this crazy ass solo. “The Flesh & The Flowers of Death” comes with one of the stronger death metal vibes as the guitar takes a step back from speed, and carries on a haunting melody. While the album is full of terrific heavy songs, some do stand out as more unique. “Another Headless Ruler of the Used” starts with drum work taking off as everyone else trudges forward with a mucky pace. When the band as a whole comes together for this effect, transitioning into a much more groove driven aura, it adds extra excitement to the brief solo and hefty ending.
“Enter Oblivion” is the first major occasion that Darkest Hour takes on a slower approach to any of the songs. Deep and epic, instrumentation rings and carries a weight this time around as the vocals come in from a distance. “The Last of the Monuments” is the only bit of clean vocals you’ll be getting out of this album, and while short-lived, they work well from an emotional aspect. “In the Name of Us All” is hardcore bliss that is grin inducing and bound to create a shit ton of bruises in the pit. Coming off like a Terror song, it uses moments of down driven instrumentation, melodies that string through underneath, and a face ripping solo. From time to time we also get straight forward kickers that make for fun tracks to go out to in the pit (such as “None of This is the Truth”). Here we find level and delivery maintained to intensify the flow.
This album is full of death metal riffs, savage hardcore pummeling in drums, and melodic beauty, making for a terrific heavy record. Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora is a work that feels like the good ole days of outstanding hardcore that meets today’s brilliant technicality and soaring metal. This is unlike anything that Darkest Hour has presented before in their discography, and dare I say it: their best work. While taking a large step away from the clean melodies and vocals found before, Darkest Hour never truly abandons that presence. They appear is small places at times, always welcoming and enough to please. Perhaps some fans will have wished for more clean singing or lighter parts, but those factors don’t take away from the entire presence of this art. This record makes for a mix of fun and diversity that is a blast. Overall, while there are those titles that stick out just a little bit more than the others, I must say that Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora is wonderful as a whole. With each spin I gave this it grew more and more on me. In a sense it makes for a tribute for the hardcore bands of the past, and a reminder of what great music today can bring us.
Source: Metal Injection