Darkest Hour - Godless Prophets and the Migrant FloraIf there was ever a band that by all accounts should have broken big when the New Wave of American Heavy Metal took over nu-metal’s spot in terms of popularity and Ozzfest playtimes, Washington, D.C.’s Darkest Hour would be that band. While they were among the first to adopt the now-tired At the Gates playbook, they at least retained the heaviness of their region’s influential hardcore scene, resulting in amazing albums like 2003’s Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation and 2005’s Undoing Ruin. Sadly, line-up and label changes, maddeningly inconsistent songwriting, and a desire to break big by altering their sound significantly hurt them more than it helped. So with all that, I approached their ninth album, the wordy Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora, with major trepidation and low expectations. Have they learned from their mistakes, are they still viable, and above all, is this any good?

The answers are yes, yes, and you betcha, in that order. After the attempt at cracking the big time with their tepid 2014 self-titled album, Darkest Hour went back to doing what they do best, which is seething hardcore with incredible melodies. One listen to the chorus of “This Is the Truth,” with an addictive guitar melody by Mike “Lonestar” Carrigan that pays a nod to “Convalescence” off of Undoing Ruin, and I was grinning ear to ear. Fellow guitarist Mike Schleibaum stepped up as well, throwing riff after heaving riff while tightening the flow between them. And I’ve never heard vocalist John Henry sound this pissed off ever. His delivery remains scalding and visceral, and thankfully he kept his one weakness, his singing, to the barest of minimums, only making an appearance during one portion of “The Last of the Monuments.”

As for the heft, Godless Prophets rivals Hidden Hands in terms of hook-filled savagery. The breakdown during “Those Who Survived” showcases Travis Orbin’s impeccable sense of build, groove, and cymbal work. His ridiculous fills that open up “This Is the Truth” spike the intensity further. But more importantly, the songwriting has gotten tighter. In short, all of the songs serve a purpose. The beautiful instrumental “Widowed” acts as a much-needed breather among the heaviness and shredding. And speaking of shredding, those fucking solos! Carrigan and Schleibaum throw down hard during “Another Headless Ruler of the Used” and “The Last of the Monuments,” proving to be two of metal’s underrated lead guitarists. Speaking of underrated guitarists, former DH shredder Kris Norris contributes an amazing lead on album closer “Beneath It Sleeps,” capping off an incredible 45-minute journey.

Darkest Hour 2017
This isn’t to say that Godless Prophets is perfect, however. The Kurt Ballou production, though heavy during breakdowns and bright during the solos, leaves little wiggle room for the bass. Save for “Beneath It Sleeps” and “Those Who Survived,” I couldn’t make out much of what Aaron Deal was doing. Which is a shame, as the dude can fucking play. Also, I would shuffle the track listing a bit. Opener “Knife in the Safe Room,” while savage and unrelenting, would’ve been a stronger follow-up to “Widowed” later on in the album. “Enter Oblivion,” the actual follow-up to “Widowed,” slows down the momentum tremendously. But this it nitpicking of an otherwise tremendous about-face that I have a hard time putting down long enough to complain or even write about.

In short, Darkest Hour are playing up to their strengths, reminding everyone why they were one of the few bands on Victory’s 2000s-era roster that weren’t a total laughing stock. If, like me, you loved their early albums, but felt like the band had lost their way, let me reassure you that they’ve made huge amends here. Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora is the best comeback album I’ve heard in recent years, and also has become my favorite Darkest Hour album to date. This is the sound of a band killing it.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Southern Lord Records
Websites: officialdarkesthour.com | facebook.com/DarkestHourDudes
Release Dates: EU: 2017.03.17 | NA: 03.10.2017

  • AndySynn

    I think I described their self-titled as “anodyne” rather than “tepid” in my review… but otherwise I think we’re pretty much on the same page.

  • first walkthrough was very… confusing, yet fascinating, but then again, I did listen to it at my burly work place, so it might make more sense with some more listens in a more controlled enviroment. That catchy title though…

  • antitayyip

    no nope in sight

  • antitayyip

    i hate vocals in metalcore style..

    • Eli Valcik

      The vocals of an angry teenager.

    • Wilhelm

      100% agreed, I don’t really hate the music but the constant shouting is a huge annoyance.

      • herrschobel

        the man is filled with ze holy anger !

    • Danny

      I think its just a matter of taste, because they are a completely different style compared to most of the music reviewed here, but a lot of people (myself included) love them. One of the things that keeps me coming back to metalcore when compared to “real metal” is how much I love the vocal approach, Sam Carter from Architects is probably my favorite harsh vocalist ever. But I understand how a lot of metal folks don’t dig it, it is a very different sound that is much more rooted in hardcore.

      • antitayyip

        i could never liked scar symmetry and soilwork…vocals are just disturbing…

        • Danny

          Yeah, that’s totally what I mean, I love Scar Symmetry’s harsh vocals. Different strokes for different folks, different growls for different pals, different screams for different…. teams?

        • Reese Burns

          Soilwork’ vocals are brilliant, what’re you on about?

          • AndySynn

            I think he’s dismissing “metalcore vocals” as “clean singing” (at least, that’s how I read it).

            Although DH don’t really do clean singing, and neither SS or SW are “metalcore” so…

          • Reese Burns

            That’s the meaning I took from it too. Mr. Strid of Soilwork has one of the most commanding and powerful voices in metal, so I definitely don’t understand saying his vocals are a turn off.

          • AndySynn

            The original comment DOES read a little “try-hard” (“oh no, they used the m-core word, I must demonstrably dislike this!”)… particularly since it doesn’t seem like he actually listened to DH, and seems to conflate SW with “metalcore”…

            BUT – that’s just one reading of it. Not necessarily the correct one. It’s hard to tell context and tone online.

          • [not a Dr]

            Did you just shout “does”, “but” and the first letter of each sentence as well as the acronyms?

          • DrewMusic

            And when referring to the self, even! Just determined to yell, these angry metal people.

          • DrewMusic

            It’s probably because they’re unpleasant. I love Soilwork’s earlier stuff, I’ve seen them live and paid for a few albums over the years, but I don’t profess to love Strid’s cleans. The screams, especially the deeper roars, sure. Ever since roughly Sworn to a Great Divide, though, the cleans have just been annoying to me. They just sound too structured and forced, like he’s trying too hard or maybe putting a little too much thought and effort into it as opposed to just singing. Because they gave me Figure Number Five, they forever receive a pass, but I can totally see how someone could hear something like Let This River Flow and maybe never want to listen to Soilwork ever again.

          • Reese Burns

            You may as well be speaking another language.. I simply cannot understand!

          • DrewMusic

            May it ever remain as such, I miss the days when I believed Soilwork could do no wrong. Christ, from like 04-09 I’m pretty sure I only listened to Soilwork, Dark Tranquility, In Flames and Opeth.

          • antitayyip

            SS is good at clean vocals only because they had christian back in the days…i especially like his effort on en knippa ljung..but thats all..who ever invented metalcore style should be excommunicated

          • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

            Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

          • Reese Burns

            Excommunicated? As in… cast out of the Catholic Church..?

          • herrschobel

            he is on ze Rant !

      • Eli Valcik

        Agreed, it’s is just a matter of taste, I got nothing against these guys and I can totally see how other people like them and why this got a 4.0/5. This just isn’t what I prefer to listen to.

    • herrschobel

      you are not angry enough !

  • sir_c

    That messy type writer font, that tinny snare that sounds like a trash can lid and an angry vocalist overshouting the buzzing riffs. Smells like a pair of old shoes.

  • ashcindersmoke

    Been jamming this all day love it. Undoing Ruin is still one of my favorite albums of all time. Great review!

  • Brian

    Strange that there doesn’t seem to be much love for any of the post-‘Undoing Ruin’ albums here. I’ve been going back to ‘The Eternal Return’ a lot recently. It never really grabbed me when I got it first. I was totally bonkers into ‘Deliver Us’ and just couldn’t get into the more straightforward, short, sharp, shock-type songs of TER. A few years later and it’s almost a revelation. It’s so much darker than DU and has although it does have a few duds, tracks like ‘No God’ and ‘Transcendence’ are up there with some of the best the band has ever done. I don’t know how but even though the album as a whole never grabbed me back when I first heard it, a few of the melodies just festered in my brain for years and somehow pulled me back to the album and let it do what it should have done first time around.

    Anyway, this new one sounds very promising. I never got around to the self-titled (and by all accounts it seems like it’s nothing special) but these new tunes sound absolutely savage. Can’t wait to get my hands on this.

  • Zadion

    Darkest Hour is a weird band for me. I discovered them years and years ago back when I was a young and developing fan of metal during my slightly embarrassing metalcore phase with their song “Demon(s).” To date, that is the only Darkest Hour song I’ve heard and loved, and I’ve listened to each of their releases since at least a couple times. Somehow they keep churning out the same “eh, this is pretty decent; I like this a little more than I thought I would” album over and over but never deliver anything substantial.

    That being said, I never listened to their early records.

    • the blob

      Honestly I can’t blame you for thinking that being that Demon(s) is off of their last (in my opinion) actually solid full-length before a long drought creativity-wise. And to be honest I could even see Deliver Us not hitting hard with someone that wasn’t already a big fan of their earlier work (like myself). Excluding this album, all of their best material was before that. I heavily recommend at least checking at Mark Of the Judas, So Sedated So Secure, and Undoing Ruin.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I wonder if Metalcore is entering it’s “return due to nostalgia” phase already.

    • Reese Burns

      If so, then hopefully we’ll see more early-2000s style metalcore bands, and less of the modern “nouning-the-verb” style bands. I’d be down for an early 2000s metalcore revival.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        You just made me realize that 20 years from now we’re likely to get hit by a nostalgia wave for stuff like We Butter the Bread with Butter and Noum The Verb bands. The future looks bleak.

        • Reese Burns

          I dunno.. I feel like the fans of that sort of music (no offence to anyone who is, of course…) are more “scenster” type people, who aren’t really in it for the long haul. I doubt that even five years from now people will remember many of those bands. At least, I hope no one will remember them.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            The fans of that sort of music are mostly 14-16 years old now. 20 years from now they’ll want to relive the fun, careless days to which this music was a soundtrack. There will be nostalgia.

          • Reese Burns


          • DrewMusic

            TYPE NOT OF THE SCENE-STER QUANDARY! If we’re quiet and don’t move around too much, they may tire themselves out and starve to death for want of knowing how to survive off of their own skills and creative abilities.

        • [not a Dr]

          Amaranthe reunion tour?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Did they split up?

          • [not a Dr]

            They’ll have 20 years to get there.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    Darkest Hour was a band that I had overlooked for years. However recently I’ve gone back and realized that they’re one hell of band. They have put out some great stuff over the years, and this album is rad return to form for them. I’m going to be spinning this record for quite awhile to come.

  • h_f_m

    Embedded is a pretty monster riff. Like it.

    Probably my favorite album from that ilk and era is still Turmoil – the process of .. Killing Today for a Better Tomorrow has a great riff.

  • This is one of those albums that give life to a genre – here metalcore . Although DH done that by infusing melodic death and thrash to their deathcore and metalcore base like always but the variety of solos and grooves plus some fire vocals changes the game and give them a high score even on AMG.

  • Phil Daly

    Has a weird “Surgical Steel but with shouting” feel to it? Music is decent, but the vocals are a huge turn-off for me. The “all angry, all the time” style just feels lazy and contrived to my ears, at which point any emotional attachment evaporates. I just can’t believe the anger is genuine when it’s presented in such a neat and tidy manner. Genuinely angry vocals crack and break, whereas these just seem to exist in a predetermined range, never having the guts to break out either above or below.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Perfect I was just about to comment vocals are boring… but this is actually what I meant…

  • Mark Z

    I listened to this a couple times and at this point I’m just not sure it’s for me. This is a lot more hardcore-influenced and ‘looser’ sounding than their older melodic death metal stuff, which is the sound I really prefer from these guys. Undoing Ruin is easily one of my favorite albums of all time, but that truly was lightning in a bottle it seems. Their other stuff has ranged from very good (The Eternal Return) to depressingly mediocre (the self-titled), but Undoing Ruin is just perfection from front to back. “With a Thousand Words to Say But One” is probably my favorite melodic death metal song of all time. I can’t tell you how many 5 mile runs I did in high school with that album as the soundtrack.

    It’s a shame on the follow-up (Deliver Us) they started messing around with clean vocals and generally slower tempos. You were spot-on in the first paragraph, Darkest Hour has always faced a bit of an identity crisis where they alternate between trying to break into a bigger fanbase and going more ‘aggressive.’ Honestly, if they had just spent their whole career trying to recreate Undoing Ruin I’m not sure I would have been upset with that. Ah well.

  • It’s unfortunate that DH still get pegged as a hardcore or metalcore band, not because there is anything wrong with hardcore, but because it really doesn’t do them justice. They started out playing wannabe Gothenburg melodic death metal in the late 90s when deathcore and metalcore weren’t even really a thing yet and fairly quickly found their own sound. No typical hardcore breakdowns, just lots of great riffs, melodic guitar hooks and solos. Glad to hear they are recovering from their missteps.

  • Ryan

    So glad to see these guys write a decent album. I was really into DH back in the early 00’s when metalcore was exploding. And, after Undoing Ruin I stopped listening because metalcore was already a boring genre. This album really surprised me with its aggressive vocals and riffs, and it’s kind of refreshing.

  • herrschobel

    if they´d just change that Font…bad bad choice…whenever i see someone with a DH shirt it´s some fleshtunnel neck tattoo kid…fuck i am old

  • Kronos

    This album is pretty cool, really scratches the itch for catchy and consumable but still substantial melodeath.

  • 4.0 is too high. Just a rip-off of The Haunted and swedish modern thrash in the late 90s and early 00s. Riffs, chords, breakdown, and the vocal style. Everything! 3.0 at the best.