Darkest Hour - The Human Romance

DARKEST HOUR has just released their latest album, The Human Romance. I’ll be honest- I was into DARKEST HOUR years ago, but then they kind of fell off my radar for whatever reason. I was anxious to give the new album a listen and what I can say is that they are back on my radar and are here to stay for some time.
The album starts off with a real solemn and sober sounding piece by the name of “Terra Nocturnus”. It has very ambient and atmospheric sounds with slight guitar feedback that very smoothly feeds into the first musical track, “The World Engulfed in Flames”. After about 15 seconds of a slower paced, yet heavy, intro to this song, they kick it up a notch aggressive screams and heavy riffing. A very slight complaint I have is the mixing of the drums as they seem to be slightly too far up front- or maybe they are fine and the guitars need to be boosted. Either way, this is just a personal technical criticism and it does not take away from the music at all. The song continues on with some pretty good guitar melodies and harmonies that add a nice dimension.
“Savor the Kill” is a very groovy riff oriented song that reminds me very much of an IN FLAMES style riff circa the Come Clarity era. The heavy rhythms lead way for some nice overlapping guitar melodies that are strewn throughout a very open feeling song. There is a lot of “air” and “space” in this song, and I think it comes off very well and shows a little bit of diversity in their song writing as opposed to having 100% in your face nonstop guitars. With that being said, the song does also include the heavy aggressive guitar parts that DARKEST HOUR has done in the past. I find the musicianship on this album, and this song particularly, a step up for these guys and I like the new direction.
The next track, “Man & Swine”, is a bit heavier and intense as it immediately starts off with blast beats and heavy screams. As the song develops, there are once again some nice layers of guitar melodies and intricacies that certainly make the songs much less monotone and enjoyable. The heavy almost hardcore style riffing in this song reminds me a bit of UNEARTH at times, which is certainly a good thing in my book. Once again they come out guitars blazing with some very nice lead work woven in with some sweet harmonies.
Amongst all of the heaviness, there is a slightly more commercial sounding song in the form of “Love as a Weapon”, but don’t let this make you think it’s some soft ass lovey dovey song because it’s not. I say it has a more commercial vibe particularly because of the intro guitars that reminded me of some ___core songs you may catch on the radio. They also utilize an attempt at some clean vocals which seem to be alright in the song, but personally I prefer DARKEST HOUR as all screams. It sort of reminds me of ATREYU right before they got all soft and started to suck – hopefully DARKEST HOUR does not follow in their footsteps, even if that’s where more money is.
“Your Everyday Disaster” comes off as a bit thrashy and very aggressive. I think they purposely placed this after the previous song incase for a second you doubted their heaviness because this song is sure to get your head banging. This song is more straightforward and in your face with the simpler guitars and heavy vocals. Now that I think about it, I really like the placement on the album of this song since it is sure to give you a kick in the ass and get you back on track in case you were getting bored or questioning their integrity. The guitar solo in this song also reminds me of 80’s esque METALLICA at times. I would say there is certainly a Kirk Hammett influence on these axe wielders.
As the album progresses through the second half, it is most definitely more aggressive and heavy. I really dig the first half for the slightly experimental approach, but I really like the aggression of the 2nd half with killer riffs on songs like “Violent by Nature” and “Purgatory” which feels like a back to the basics, in your face, take it or leave it heaviness. Once again the band uses multiple guitar layers and melodies in songs like “Severed into Separates” which add a real nice flare to their songs. It really breaks up the constant heavy riffing, which is always good, but personally I like melody in my songs, and their guitar work certainly has appeased my appetite for that.
One last track worth mentioning is “Terra Solaris” as it has all of the heavy basics, but they even have an acoustic breakdown that fits the song well and isn’t done just to have an acoustic part. The dynamics of this song are very strong and flow together excellently. As with the rest of the album, the guitar work on this song is also killer and keeps the melodies fresh.
All in all I would certainly recommend The Human Romance by DARKEST HOUR as it is sure to fulfill your hunger for heaviness with some great melodies. The highlight of the album for me is the lead guitar work and melodies. I don’t say this because we have the next Eddie Van Halen here or anything, but the parts are written and performed perfectly to add a great dynamic and always keep you on your toes. This album is full of the heaviness that all DARKEST HOUR fans expect and have grown to love. The blending of harmonies and melodies with aggressive riffing, heavy vocals, and pounding drums is a very good formula these guys have crafted and I certainly look forward to hearing this album many more times. (7.5/10)

Devin Walsh

For fans of: At the Gates, In Flames, The Red Death