It was nearly two years ago that I was officially introduced to Darkest Hour and their brand of aggressive and melodic metal-core. It feels like forever ago, despite being well into the metal-core cycle and a full four albums into the band's run. I liked the album but felt it fell just shy of being something particularly great. There was a lot to like, and I do like them, but I felt there was something missing. Do they find that nebulous something on The Eternal Return? Sort of. I think it is a better album, but there is something about them that fails to completely hook me. I wish I knew what it was.
At first, The Eternal Return feels and sounds like more of the same. It is a sound and feel that I find easy to get into. Despite the lack of that "big hit" type song that I can sometimes be affected by, this is a very easy album to get hooked by. The music is heavy and catchy and you will want to bang your head. On the other hand, however, it is relentlessly depressing. This is a dark, dismal, and apocalyptic album. That is saying something after how dark Deliver Us was.
This latest album gets off to a roaring start with "Devolution of Flesh." The song begins with the fateful words "This is the end of a sickening tale." Interesting choice, it seems to mark a change in path, leaving behind the old ways for something new. Of course, I could just be reading into it a little too much, which is probably the likelier option. Combine this charge for change with the fact that this album is so reminiscent to Deliver Us and then the meaning behind the new album's title. It definitely makes one wonder how much research was made during the album's naming process.
"Eternal return" is a theory the universe keeps recurring and will continue to do so in a similar fashion to what is here now. The concept has been taken so far as to be applied all the way down to the level of the individual, suggesting that people will continue to do the same things in the same order and not by reincarnation, but in the same bodies, where life is cyclical and not linear. Interesting, no?
In any case, the album title may be just a touch too telling of what is contained within. Sure, the song titles are different, and border on the epic style of classic metal bands (witness "The Blessed Infection," "Death Worship," and "A Distorted Utopia"), but I listened to a few of these tunes back to back with those from Deliver Us, and they are quite similar in style. If nothing else, this new album is a darker and touch thrashier.
Darkest Hour definitely play with passion, and they music sounds like it has the fullness of their collective energies, but there is something amiss. They are forever on the cusp of greatness. They have skills and there is definitely a high level of technical prowess on display and they are very easy to get into. It is just that when I turn them off, I remember the name but none of the songs.
Bottomline. I suppose I can say I like them. The two albums I have definitely have their moments and sound great turned up, but I cannot say they are a band I will reach for instead of other, similar acts. The Eternal Return has a slight edge on Deliver Us for it being a bit more aggressive and dark. Fans of the band will want this, but I am not sure they will win new ones.
Oh yes, the best song by far is "No God."