Darkest Hour - The Human Romance
E1 Music
Melodic Death Metal
12 songs (45:44)
Release year: 2011
Darkest Hour, E1 Music
Reviewed by Khelek

Darkest Hour have been around for over 10 years now, beginning as a metalcore band and gradually making their sound more and more melodic until we’re left with a modern-sounding melodeath band in the vein of DevilDriver meets All That Remains. There are still not much in the way of clean vocals, though frontman John Henry does sometimes use a clean-ish version of his unique growls. The guitar work from Mike Schleibaum is still top-notch. However, the songwriting has not improved much since their last album, and with an album name like The Human Romance, you should almost expect some slower, almost ballad type songs. While there are definitely some excellent songs here, Darkest Hour have once again struggled to create an album with the same kind of consistency that they used to.

One thing I've always liked about Darkest Hour is their ability to create a listenable yet complex album. Every album I've heard by these guys has some songs that quickly jump out and are pretty listenable, but if you continue listening, you notice more things that weren't apparent at first. They are definitely albums that you really have to listen to, not just put on in the background, and so I give them a good amount of time before forming an overall opinion.

The intro track is some foreboding clean electric guitar masquerading as piano, followed by the heavy and melodic The World Engulfed In Flames. Plenty of heavy guitar, with the tempo picking up after the melodic intro. Henry’s voice sounds very strong and I can really feel his emotion coming through. Somewhat reminds me of DevilDriver. A solid first track. Savor The Kill starts off with a very catchy, familiar sounding riff. Definitely reminds me even more of DevilDriver here, perhaps because of Henry's vocal style being similar to Dez Fafara's. The hardcore influences that they used to incorporate have disappeared, instead we have very melodic, heavy riffs and some breakdowns sprinkled in. This is a very melodic song and a very listenable one. Some might find it too poppy and melodic for their taste, but I find it quite enjoyable. Man & Swine is quick and exciting in the beginning, but becomes a bit slow and tedious, and doesn't really immerse me in the darker, foreboding atmosphere that I think they were going for. The song title Love As A Weapon may scare some people, thinking this is going to go in an emo direction, and the opening guitar lines have something in common with those such as Alexisonfire. The stop and go guitar riffs are pretty generic, and I definitely don't feel as much sincerity from this song. The clean-ish vocals in the chorus are well-done, but it does feel a bit contrived, especially with the clean guitar interlude. Ultimately I don't feel this song has any real lasting value; it's good for some immediate gratification in the catchiness and melody departments, but it lacks solid substance. And how many of these same-sounding melodic death/metalcore love ballads have we heard? More than enough.

Your Everyday Disaster picks up the pace, definitely a more exciting song, but still pretty generic/cheesy, sounds to me like a combination of DevilDriver and All That Remains. Wound starts off similarly with some faster energy, and has more sincerity to it I feel, but still it can get into trouble with how generic it sounds. The guitar work is definitely more interesting, but I feel like the song just needs to be punchier, faster the entire time instead of resorting to the much-overused breakdown chorus. Terra Solaris is an epic instrumental that is quite well done, and it proves that these guys have some real talent in creating epic compositions and playing their instruments. It's a relaxing listen that keeps you involved from beginning to end. Beyond The Life You Know is probably one of the most energetic tracks from the album, and it shows that these guys know how to write excellent, engaging material. The guitars are melodic yet also aggressive and drive the song forward, while Henry's vocals smash their way through my speakers. The song stays consistent and memorable yet doesn't fall into the cheesiness that this album often does. It hearkens back to the band's earlier work, and it's really a shame there aren't more songs of this caliber on the album.

I really, really used to like these guys, but lately their output has not built on what they have accomplished. Instead what we often have is a mixture of melodeath with emo and alt-rock sensibilities. Honestly I expected more from these guys. I was hoping for a return to the bands faster, more violent roots because these guys can do an excellent job of melding violence and melody, and this album tends to fall pretty far on the confessional/melodic ballad side in my opinion. If you enjoy bands like Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, and newer In Flames, then this album is probably good for a few spins, and you'll even find yourself coming back to a few of the really good songs here. However, this seems to be another case of a band simply being more concerned with what is popular rather than what is good, memorable music.

Killing Songs :
The World Engulfed In Flames, Savor The Kill, Terra Solaris, Beyond The Life You Know
Khelek quoted 68 / 100
Other albums by Darkest Hour that we have reviewed:
Darkest Hour - The Eternal Return reviewed by Khelek and quoted 79 / 100
Darkest Hour - Undoing Ruin reviewed by Nathanael and quoted 95 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 9 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:17 am
View and Post comments