Darkest Hour - Archives (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Darkest Hour

Archives (2006)


Since their inception, Darkest Hour have grown from a hardcore band with a taste for Swedish metal to a full-fledged American thrash institution with some of the most punishing and innovative songwriting in punk-based heavy music.

A-F Records recently released Archives, which combines the band's first two EPs (1996's The Misanthrope and 1999's The Prophecy Fulfilled) as well as a handful of singles from the same period.

Much of the material on Archives is tough to find, especially The Misanthrope, so fans of the band might take solace in being able to finally mosh out in their bedrooms to their favorite band's earlier work. While The Misanthrope might be cool to finally hear, it doesn't really go beyond that. The band's earliest work falls miles short of what they would later accomplish.

The tracks taken from The Prophecy Fulfilled definitely make up the strongest moments of Archives. While the original isn't impossible to find, it's not unlikely that many of Darkest Hour's fans are missing them. It's no surprise that these songs were placed outside of chronological order and appear as the Archive's first six tracks. They offer a nearly seamless introduction into what many argue is Darkest Hour's masterpiece, The Mark of the Judas. A few 7-inch tracks and split contributions take us through to the 10th track, at which time The Misanthrope takes over, which really seems as though it might as well have been recorded by a different band altogether.

Archives is an interesting look at Darkest Hour before they became one of the best American metal bands of the last ten years. They've always kept a low profile, but one listen to any of their Victory Records releases would make it tough for any metal fan to disagree. Archives is the last place to look for your first Darkest Hour purchase, but for fans it's a great addition to your collection. Had it been limited to the first 10 songs, it would have been of much higher quality, but at the same time there is some value in having the older stuff just for interest's sake.