CD Review: Darkest Hour - Deliver Us
12 years into its career, Darkest Hour continues to improve. Over its past three albums, this DC band has progressed from being just another Gothenburg melodeath clone to something more substantial. Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation put the band on the map for speed and intensity; Undoing Ruin added Devin Townsend production and better songwriting. Deliver Us, though, is Darkest Hour's deepest, most diverse, and best album to date.
The changes are subtle but noticeable. If the band was once prone to thrashing away mindlessly, its songs here are much more nuanced, with logical transitions and unexpected detours. The chord progressions are more emotional, with melodies and hooky jangles all over the place. John Henry occasionally breaks from his harsh yell for effective clean singing. It's not good cop/bad cop nonsense, but a natural extension of songs' dynamics. Devin Townsend turns in punchy, heavy production, though the mastering is over-compressed, smearing his work.
Most importantly, the band unleashes Kris Norris. He's a fearsome shredder, but his talents lay untapped before due to some hardcore-based notion about "no solos." Screw that! His lightning-quick runs, tasteful harmonies, and jawdropping sweep picking add immeasurable spice – check out the sick dissonant legato work in "Full Imperial Collapse." With amazing artwork from John Dyer Baizley, Deliver Us proves that Darkest Hour has become a bona fide metal force.