The sound of the 90’s is instantly recognizable. There’s an essence about it that seeps in and takes over. The “grungy” sound that mixes, rock, metal, punk and many others is one of my favorite sounds. When you take that sound and mix it with the right players and style, you get something quite good. For example, the band of the week, The Primals, have nailed that sound. This three piece comprised of John Henry (vocals/guitar), Andrew Black (drums) and Chad Fjerstad (bass) have taken the 90’s grunge sound, added a little more punk vibe to it. Their sound is catchy without being mainstream. The bands debut album, All Love Is True Love, which came out in late 2018, was produced by John Reis (Rocket From The Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes). The Primals really knocked it out of the park with their first full length. The ten songs on it are full of piss and vinegar. It’s raw and infectious and just what the rock world needs. It’s bands like The Primals that show that rock music is alive and well.
I will be the first to admit that after the past two albums Darkest Hour released, (The Human Romance and their Self Titled album) I had lost interest. The line up changes and musical shift that was happening really just wasn’t cutting it for me. But now on their ninth studio album, Darkest Hour has found their way back to what made them great. I’ve always regarded the band as a very underrated treasure. Musically they combine all the elements I enjoy from punk, thrash and Swedish melodic death metal. On this new album Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora, Darkest Hour have cemented themselves as a force to be reckoned within the heavy music circles.
The moment the first song “Knife In The Safe Room” begins, you know that you are in for a treat. Every single song on this album is something special. In particular ” Timeless Numbers,” “None Of This Is The Truth,” “The Flesh and the Flowers of Death,” “Those Who Survived,” “Enter Oblivion,” “In The Name of Us All,” and closer “Beneath It Sleeps.” Guitarists Mike Schleibaum and Michael “Lonestar” Carrigan have never sounded better together. Along with the input and contributions of former member Kris Norris, the guitar work on this album is what fans have been wanting for years. Drummer Travis Orbin and bassist Aaron Deal have finally hit their stride as a rhythm section. As much as I miss Ryan and Paul in the band, if this is the direction Travis and Aaron are going to go, I’m more than satisfied. Vocalist John Henry has really stepped up his game lyrically and vocally. Personally I think this is the best he has sounded since Undoing Ruin.
The choice to work with producer Kurt Ballou was a great choice. Kurt was really able to dial in on the tones needed to make this a special album. In fact this album is one of the best I’ve heard Kurt produce and record outside of Converge, since High On Fire’s De Vermis Mysteriis. Armed with this album and a renewed sense of purpose, Darkest Hour are roaring back with a no holds barred approach. Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora is an album that will be looked back up in the bands catalog as a standout. The band should be really proud of what they have created. I as a fan, am really stoked on this album. This is everything that Darkest Hour should be.
It’s really hard to believe that ten years has passed by this fast. It seems like just yesterday I was at the record store buying Darkest Hour’s Undoing Ruin. That album really cemented Darkest Hour as a force in the metal scene in that era. Not only that, but with the additional help of Devin Townsend on the production end, they were able to build on the sound of a lot of Swedish metal bands were doing like Soilwork and In Flames. Undoing Ruin also marked a point for the band in which they added some more melodic parts including cleaner vocals. Not to take away from their current lineup, but the five guys that appeared as the core lineup on many of Darkest Hour’s best albums made this band what it is. On the guitar side of things, Kris Norris and Mike Schleibaum complemented each other perfectly. Ryan Parrish and Paul Burnette were a beyond powerful rhythm section that pummeled through with tight precision. The album as a whole from start to finish was cohesive and tight. Each song flowed into the next without having any moments to deviate from the order. Songs like “With A Thousand Words To Say But One,” “Convalescence,” “Sound The Surrender,” “These Fevered Times,” and “Tranquil.” are standout tracks on their own, but in the context of the album as a whole, they are even better. Recently, Darkest Hour did a tour playing this album in its entirety. Sadly I missed that show and can only imagine how great it was. Here’s to hoping that this recent tour puts the band in the right mindset to release a new album soon that incorporates more of this type of sound.