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.
Often time as bands go through lineup changes, it takes a while for the band to get back in the swing of things. The new members have a different way of playing and bring a different energy that takes the music on a detour. Then over time as they grow more comfortable, the band comes back to where they should be. Darkest Hour is one of these bands. On their upcoming 9th album, the gents in Darkest Hour have returned to their roots and are about to deliver their most ferocious album in years. You can tell by listening to the first few songs released that these guys mean business. By working with producer Kurt Ballou of Converge and bringing in former guitarist Kris Norris, Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora takes you back to the days of The Mark Of The Judas, Hidden Hands Of The Sadist Nation era. Darkest Hour are unleashing the heavy!
A few months ago when The Dillinger Escape Plan came through town on their recent tour, they brought with them Cult Leader as an opener. I had really been looking forward to seeing them. After listening to their latest album Lightless Walk, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. Needless to say, their performance left me in awe, and inspired. Cult Leader is the type of band that will steal the show, and leave the audience in a state of astonishment.
Formed in 2013, following the break up of their former band Gaza, Anthony Lucero, Casey Hansen, and Mike Mason decided to continue to make music together. They then recruited Sam Richards to join them. After spending time working on new music and releasing two EP’s, Nothing For Us Here and Useless Animal, it was time for the band to begin work on their first full length. Lightless Walk was produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou. The album is a righteous slab of metal, hardcore and punk with bits of ambiance properly placed to give the songs the proper dynamics they need to be powerful. With songs like “Great I Am,” The Sorrower,” “A Good Life,” “How Deep It Runs,” and “Lifeless Walk,” it’s no wonder that Cult Leader has become one of the best bands in the genre of heavy music. Their live performances are intense, aggressive and hypnotic. I highly recommend seeing Cult Leader when they come though your town.
Take a moment and expand upon your musical palate… Listen to Cult Leader!!!
Cult Leader- Lightless Walk:
Cult Leader- Live (10/30/16 @ The Regent Theater with The Dillinger Escape Plan):
It’s truly great to have bands coming out that really get what it means to write pure honest songs, and make music that has real meaning and depth. Enter Chicago’s Sweet Cobra. The band was founded in 2003, and came charging out the gates with the fury and passionate qualities of their hardcore/noise-rock/metal roots mixed with a more straightforward rock delivery. Over the course of their career, Sweet Cobra has played with bands such as Pelican, Russian Circles, Coliseum, Black Cobra, Doomriders, The Life And Times, Young Widows and many more. Sweet Cobra toured relentlessly throughout the beginning of their career and released a myriad of recorded material, including three LPs, 2004’s Praise through Seventh Rule Recordings, 2007’s Forever through Hawthorne Street Records, and 2010’s Mercy on Blackmarket Activities, not to mention splits with Doomriders, Young Widows among others. Sadly, tragedy struck in 2009 when second guitarist Mat Arluck lost his ongoing fight with cancer. Sweet Cobra went on as a three piece and pushed forward, playing shows, constructing new material, and exploring new sounds. Now in 2014 the band is gearing up to release Earth through Magic Bullet Records. The band’s triumphant new LP was recorded and produced by Matt Talbot of Hum and Kurt Ballou of Converge, and also features guest musical contributions from each artist. This album is sure to be a sonic blast of genuine awesomeness.
After countless years on the road and upping their game on every album, Every Time I Die seemed to have found the perfect balance of all that worked for them in the past. Teaming up with producer Kurt Ballou of Converge, From Parts Unknown is an unrelenting and cohesive album. All the things that make this band enjoyable is found throughout this album. The production is still raw but has a new approach to make certain instruments more prevalent in the songs and the vocals more coherent. Their previous album Ex Lives with producer Joe Barresi started the band on this track. Clocking in at 31 minutes, the 12 songs are full of introspective lyrics and memorable thrash/hardcore, some of the time adding a solid groove or a melodic tinge.
First track “The Great Secret” has all the above mentioned and then some. This song really kicks things off with a bang. “Decayin With The Boys” is classic Every Time I Die with bits of melody. “If There Is Room To Move, Things Move” is ferocious in its thrashy hardcore roots. “Thirst” is an aggressive heavy song with awesome breakdowns and a real attitude. “The Great Secret” has a Converge vibe to it along with a really heavy groove. “El Dorado” shifts gears a bit and is more of a melodic rock song with a 90’s guitar sound. “Overstayer” is the weakest track on the album. There really isn’t anything that is great about this song. “Moor” is a real departure for the band. Starting with a piano intro that melds very well with Keith Buckley’s clean vocals really showcases the band’s songwriting and ability to be diverse. This song is a real stand out. “Exomotorium” is a solid groove/hardcore song. “Pelican Of The Desert” is heavy and full of energy. It also features a guest vocal cameo from Sean Ingram of Coalesce. “All Structures Are Unstable” is a solidly good melodic hardcore song. Closing out the album is “Old Light” featuring Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem. This song has the cleanest vocals on any Every Time I Die song ever. Musically it goes from a rock song to classic ETID.
All in all From Parts Unknown is dynamic and full of greatness. With the exception of one song, it is a stellar album. Every Time I Die has a knack for putting out solid material and this is no different. I would even dare to say that this album is a statement to all those that try to do what they do but always fall short. On the scale of 1-10, I’d give this an 8.5.