Darkest Hour, "Undoing Ruin"
Finally! This is the sound of hardcore kids (men) playing metal. This is the way it should be and Darkest Hour have shot themselves and everyone else catering to exploited Swedish death metal in the foot. These Virginian hoods have proved worthy adversaries of every other band in this now completely bastardized genre. After the mediocre Victory debut So Sedate, So Secure, and the freak guest-a-plenty Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation, Undoing Ruin is an ever befitting title to the best record of the year. They have undone everything anyone has ever hoped to create in Swedish mosh core.
Having been a close supporter ever since the inclusion of “Paths of Despair” on the 1997 “Harder They Come” compilation for East Coast Empire Records (put that in your scene pipe and smoke it) up through what I thought they would and so far have never topped Mark of the Judas, I faithfully followed, saw and partied with these guys many, many times until feeling there was too much emphasis on the party and not enough on the music. Upon the initial riff opening “With a Thousand Words to Say but One” I knew the boys were back. They have seemingly eschewed their plot to stay true to their punk-core roots, and have effortlessly melded the melody of heyday In Flames with the aggression and energy of their ‘core upbringing. First highlight is the magnificent, tight riffing of Schielbaum and Norris, the latter being the newly instituted guitar prodigy that brings effortless soloing to every track, a feature the band has always skimped on, and use to full effect now. Second, Drummer Ryan Parrish has amazingly outdone himself, not being afraid of the kick pedals, and gives the performance of a lifetime, outstanding for such a scrawny twenty-something. And last, vocalist John Henry is uncanny, outstanding and un-fuck-with-able in his delivery. This dude has a rasp for the hall of fame, sick and completely audible in every note, word, and syllable; with lyrics to get everyone involved. There are no filler love letters here. And for anyone who has ever met him, he is one of the most soft spoken people you will ever know; he will say five words in five hours and then all around possess you live. The songs flow unlike any other, every track a single, every riff sticks in your brain until the next squashes it. The acoustic interlude of “Pathos” recalls the classical ambiance of “Part II;” “Sound the Surrender” is Undoing Ruin’s “For the Soul of the Savior” – an epic wrapped in three and half minutes of blistering speed picking ended upon a staggering swash of melodic riffing and Helloween soloing (in the best way possible). Album closer, “Tranquil” closes out the show expertly and gives Dark Tranqullity a run for their euros. There will not be another record to dominate the listener in it’s skill and enrapture with it’s elegance.
I have listened to a lot of music over the years, and I have been a big fan of Darkest Hour for most of them, but I have to say now that my love, admiration and respect have renewed for these guys. They have blended the perfect recipe of melodic death metal and metallic hardcore that will be damn fucking impossible to top. They have crafted the Slaughter of the Soul for the new millennium, for the genre they unwittingly cornerstone-ed, and for the bands they know they enslave.
With a Thousand Words to Say but One