Darkest Hour - Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Darkest Hour

Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation (2003)


In my review of the last Darkest Hour record, I made some fairly grandiose statements about metalcore, and I'll probably avoid that this time around. Suffice to say, Darkest Hour makes some fairly hardcore-influenced metal, with strong European influences The combination of aggressive hardcore, and Swedish metal has been undeniably popular, and the band has recieved much (deserved) acclaim in the underground metal scene.

In that review of the last record, I had some pretty simple criticisms of an otherwise strong record, mainly that some of the tracks lacked energy and the vocals were muted. In almost every way, Hidden Hands addresses those issues, with a substantially more realized and brutal sound, coupled with more melodic, melancholic undertones.

If anything, they've surpased my expectation on much of the record. As before, most the melodies are carried by Kris Norris, Mike Schleibaum's and Paul Burnette's intricate and light speed guitar and bass work, and supplemented by John Henry's anguished but atonal vocals and Ryan Parrish's multi-faceted drumming. Supplementing the original five members are guest spots from members of At The Gates, Soilwork, The Crown and At the Gates-spinoff The Haunted. As well, the record was recorded in it's entirety in the mecca of modern metal, Gotenborg, Sweden.

The result is a much stronger record, which dare I say, surpasses Mark of Judas both for diversity and for the raw unchecked aggression. From the opening blast of speed that marks "The Sadist Nation", to the near perfect "Pay Phones and Pills" to the long, symphonic "Accessible Lies", Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation is powerful stuff.

It's hard to pinpoint what makes the record work so well; be it the much more prevelant melodies, the constant experimentation with tempo, the ability to combine such diverse heavy influences coherently, or the reluctance to fall into genre traps, this is an outstanding heavy record and will hopefully be the record to show that clever, original metal can be produced on this side of the Atlantic.