Darkest Hour - The Eternal Return (Cover Artwork)

Darkest Hour

The Eternal Return (2009)


I got on the Darkest Hour bandwagon pretty late. The first time I heard them was "Sound the Surrender" from PROTECT: A Benefit for the National Association to Protect Children. Usually, I wouldn't have given a band of that ilk a chance, but I'd heard sufficient good things, and to this day, I'm very happy about that. So, despite not being too up on the wealth of material on offer, even I was a little gutted when Kris Norris announced his departure from the band. Reading various reviews and user comments, it seemed that the guys from D.C. were going to struggle to extend their long-running trend of releasing solid stuff.

Which goes some way to explaining why this review is so late. The first thing I noticed about The Eternal Return is that the much-discussed melodic vocals from John Henry had not made the jump from Deliver Us. The second thing I noticed is that there was an apparent lack of variety. Both of these initial reactions lead me to believe that the prevailing fears of the new lineup were all justified; the whole disc came off rather bland. However, nine months later, I can confidently say that The Eternal Return is well up there with anything Darkest Hour have ever done.

Intentional or not, the lack of variety and melodic vocals has allowed the ascension to a level of aggression never seen before from the band. And it's so addictive. "Devolution of Flesh" is a fucking haymaker of an opener that is easily amongst the best stuff DH have done. "Bitter" is a 1-minute-17-second slab of fury and speed, whilst "No God" comes off as pure, uncut rage with the addition of some tasty solos. For the less bulged-vein of tastes, there's "Blessed Infection", which features some of the most melodic work on the album, and "Transcendence"--which contains the only clean guitar to be seen. Make no mistake, every track is killer. What The Eternal Return delivers has been well done, but rarely done so well.

Whilst maybe coming off a little more generic and straightforward than recent work, The Eternal Return may be Darkest Hour's most aptly named LP yet. Rest assured, this is definitely a case of one step back and three steps forward and I fully expect more great shit from the boys.