If you haven’t been paying attention, the haters are having a field day bashing the living shit of Darkest Hour’s new self-titled LP. I haven’t seen an underdog take a pounding like this since Captain America inhaled a warehouse full of Heisenberg and beat Daredevil’s ass blue-black until his face resembled senior citizen scrotum. I refer to Henry & Schleibaum as underdogs because, honestly, what chance did they have at appeasing any fickle fuck whose life is so empty he writes about his CDs? (Sorry, computer files, or however the fuck you listen to music on the Starship Enterprise.) Painted into a corner by a remarkably solid but undeniably predictable career up to this point, they had one of two choices: keep rehashing a tried ‘n’ true Slaughter of the Soul-worshipping formula already stretched paper thin over the course of seven albums, or… they could change. If the last 15 years has taught me anything, it’s that Metalcore bands can only change in a couple of different ways. They can “go Deftones,” which is similar to “going Radiohead” (other street names: “writing a Jupiter,” or “pulling a Codeseven”); they can incorporate some kind of foreign genre (Glam, Gothic, Dance/Electronica) into an odd couple pairing that typically just sounds wrong; or, as in this particular case, the lifelong screamer gives actual singing a whirl. All paths lead to a softer, more accessible goal, and it either works or it doesn’t. Believe it or not, I think Darkest Hour has pulled it off in spades. Let’s face it, they couldn’t go on writing the same record every two years ‘til the end of time. I don’t care how good that same record is, eventually the shit gets stale. Sometimes you just have to bite Holyfield’s ear off. I’d imagine it’s better than getting knocked out. I honestly don’t see what all the critics are so butthurt about here. With album #8, these guys have written some tunes you might actually remember in ten years. John Henry can really fucking sing!! Who knew? I mean, the guy nails it as far as I’m concerned. The standout clean singing on “The Misery We Make,” “Futurist,” “Anti-Axis,” “The Goddess Figure,” and “Departure” creates instant memorability, not to mention staying power. Henry’s style often reminds me of Nicholas Brooks on It Dies Today’s The Caitiff Choir, and yeah, I do mean that as a compliment. Many of these songs still brim with that fiery Gothenberg energy, only now there are different levels they can operate on. Besides, if you want to hear them play only that signature style, you’ve got a mega-fuckton of old records to choose from. I think this is their best since The Mark of the Judas. I may’ve said that before, but this time I mean it. People just didn’t give this one enough of a chance before dragging it into a folder with the other 621 releases they downloaded that day. Either that, or they just can’t get around the paralyzing fear that they might just like something “the kids” are into if they’d listen to it more than once. People suck.
Speaking of which, make sure you hunt down the retinal scan-only bonus tracks, as they are two of the best songs of the bunch. Gee, guys… I’m glad I went out and bought the standard edition the day it came out… dicks.
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