The Eternal Return

Darkest Hour

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The Eternal Return Review

by Phil Freeman

Darkest Hour keep the pedal to the metal on their sixth album. There are no stylistic leaps here, just refinements of the band's impressive technique. The time they spent opening the previous year's At the Gates reunion/farewell tour has clearly affected their songwriting and delivery, as vocalist John Henry's raw-throated roar owes more to Tomas Lindberg than ever. Meanwhile, guitarists Mike Schleibaum and Mike Carrigan carve riffs out of stone and split the sky with lightning-fast solos that blur the line between thrash and prog. The rhythm section keeps it all moving, drummer Ryan Parrish beating the kit right through the floor; bassist Paul Burnette, unfortunately, disappears into the mix -- except for an impressive break on "Bitter." Darkest Hour's D.C. hardcore roots emerge on that 80-second tirade, which compresses all the strengths of their more traditional-length songs into a lightning-fast barrage. Just about every other song here, though, features a hooky riff and a memorable -- if not "catchy" in the traditional pop chart sense -- chorus. These are songs destined to be shouted along with as fists pump in the pit. Combine that with the totally air-guitar-worthy solos, and you've got a very solid metalcore/melodic death metal album. This is what Darkest Hour have always done very well (let "always" = "since Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation"), and they show no signs of slowing down or slackening on The Eternal Return.

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