Darkest Hour – The Human Romance (2011)

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Music

This review pains me from the start, as I am probably one of the biggest Darkest Hour fans on the planet. The thought of having to address the band’s latest effort – The Human Romance – in anything but a positive light seemed unlikely, but after giving it a good listen, the following review needed to be told.

Much like their peers As I Lay Dying, Unearth, and Killswitch Engage, Darkest Hour are stuck in a creative rut. Such a predicament has left them struggling to reignite the same sparks that made their music interesting several years ago. After a series of noteworthy albums whose merits have already been forgotten about, Darkest Hour unleash their latest opus as proof they haven’t completely lost it.

Unfortunately, most of the songs on The Human Romance point to the opposite. The offerings here are the same stale ingredients that have plagued the American scene for the last decade. Essentially, The Human Romance is a semi-competent rehash of ideas created by In Flames served with At The Gates vigor.

The Human Romance begins with a meandering and contemplative intro that would otherwise be dubbed “lame” except this writer took the time to appreciate its nuances. Once the subtlety has opened the curtains for the opening salvo, ripping twin guitars ala In Flames scream before the ferocity is let loose.

Then you instantly realize what is happening. You’ve heard this a few hundred thousand times before. Insensitive bashing aside, Darkest Hour is in fine shape musically even if the music itself is hardly interesting. However, the real downer here is vocalist John Henry: his angry caveman bark is god-awful. Considering how much they sound like their Swedish influences, Darkest Hour would be in better shape if they cleaned up the vocals department a bit. Not in the vein of As I Lay Dying though, as that band can’t figure out what kind of band it truly wants to be.

Maybe it’s the twin guitars and jackhammer percussion that’s playing tricks on my mind, because listening to Darkest Hour in 2011 feels like listening to As I Lay Dying in 2010. The striking semblance points to one thing and one thing only. You read it here first, boys and girls: the entire New Wave of American Heavy Metal (NWOAHM) movement is running on empty. To think – Darkest Hour and their brothers in the scene were being held as the saviors of metal back in the day.

The Human Romance does have a few fantastic cuts- the best being the bruising thrasher Violent by Nature, the upbeat Severed into Separates, and the wonderful almost-progressive interlude Terra Solaris. That’s way less than a handful of good songs in a 45 minute album, which spells trouble. Man, do these guys – and the whole “metalcore” scene as a whole – need inspiration.

Probably not a bad album for the new listener, but for those of you like me that have spent the last ten years focused on this stuff, it’s unfortunately forgettable and passable.

The Human Romance will be released February 22, 2011

Tracklist:
01 – Terra Noctunus
02 – The World Engulfed In Flames
03 – Savor The Kill
04 – Man & Swine
05 – Love As A Weapon
06 – Your Everyday Disaster
07 – Violent By Nature
08 – Purgatory
09 – Severed Into Separates
10 – Wound
11 – Terra Solaris
12 – Beyond The Life You Know
13 – Hierarchry Of Heathens (Bonus Track)

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link | Download (192kbps): Link

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