Darkest Hour, "Archives"
Having been at the top of America's death metal/hardcore crop for more than a decade, Darkest Hour now sees fit to release a collection of their earlier work. That's all fine and dandy, but isn't it a little suspect for a band whose members have barely hit 30 to do something like this? For one thing, it smacks of conceit. Groups like The Beatles can get away with comprehensive retrospectives. I mean, they changed shit. And even then, their retrospectives came out posthumously. I'm just not sure that marginally important bands like Darkest Hour can pull this off.
Not to steal their thunder. They're a great band. For what it's worth, the whippersnappers were dabblin' in the black art of metal as early as '95. And they were doing it well. "Archives" shows a decidedly more raspy, raw and fast outfit. They were definitely ahead of the curve in catching on to the black metal movement, showing influences of that genre early on in their brand of hardcore. The drums are tight, executing fast/blast beats and double bass with equal aplomb. The guitars are less melodic than they are now, content to chug along and flow through punkish chord progressions. The vocals --- perhaps more possessed than the current version. It's definitely the same Darkest Hour, just a little younger sounding.
All in all, "Archives" illuminates the past of a band who'd just discovered their potential and were on the verge of taking things to the next level. Perhaps a must for the devout fan, but not necessarily so for the casual listener. My recommendation would be to wait for the new album this summer. Until then...Keefe