Darkest Hour - Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora (Cover Artwork)

Darkest Hour

Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora (2017)

Southern Lord

Ever since the early aughts, "metalcore" has become a pejorative term in a lot of circles. The mere mention of the word conjures images of unnecessary second vocalists, "brootal" single-note breakdowns interspersed with saccharine-sweet auto tuned choruses, and the accompanying deep V-neck T-shirts and/or sexual assault allegations. Yet at its core (pun intended), isn't the genre in its best form just supposed to be a mash-up of the best parts of metal and hardcore? What's wrong with that?

Darkest Hour would probably consider themselves more of a pure metal band. A healthy amount of At The Gates worship is evident throughout their 20-plus year career, as well as enough lineup changes to make most elite, tough-to-work-with black metal types nod in approval. However, they have always had a foot rooted in a hardcore ethos--which has most likely earned them a pass in communities such as this one. Whatever you want to call Darkest Hour, they distill the double bass assaults and the epic arrangements of metal--along with hardcore intensity and sincerity-- into a no-bullshit banger of a record in Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora. Having been a big fan of a few previous records (and admittedly not being entirely familiar with all of them), I was excited when I heard they had teamed with Kurt Ballou and Southern Lord Records to put out this new effort.

Ballou's presence as producer becomes evident even before his signature raw drum sound hits on opening track "Knife in the Safe Room." A piercing squeal of feedback introduces this rager, which only slows down to make the listener bang their head for a neat syncopated breakdown towards the end. Darkest Hour sound re-invigorated, showcasing a rawer sound than heard on recent recordings. It's a welcome change. No longer all speed and wild dual guitar solos --though there admittedly are a ton of both of those things--Darkest Hour tinkers with a few new tricks. "Timeless Numbers" has a good groove to it, and instrumental piece "Widowed" offers a pretty mid-album break from all the smashing. Penultimate track "In The Name of us All" feels like a metallic hardcore song and dabbles a little into Converge/Every Time I Die territory with its chaotic riffing. Closer "Beneath It Sleeps" features a killer main riff and a crushing breakdown. Godless Prophets then wraps after 45 minutes, never overstaying its welcome.

Aside from the production and a few left turns, this is very much a metalcore record in its purest sense. It works, and if this is what metalcore is supposed to sound like, there's no need to hide your love for the maligned genre. Darkest Hour have perfected their formula and delivered a career-revitalizing work.