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Revitalising - 86%

PassiveMetalhead, March 20th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Southern Lord Recordings (Bandcamp)

Just like bands such as God Forbid and Shadows Fall, Darkest Hour never really reached the level of popularity that the NWOAHM propelled most bands up to. Darkest Hour’s back catalogue may not be anything utterly groundbreaking or contains no definitive classics but their discography has remained consistently impressive during their 21 year career. But, unlike the aforementioned genre-neighbours, Darkest Hour is still around and remains relevant in today’s scene.

The fact that Darkest Hour’s ninth album, “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora”, was formed from a crowd-funding campaign eloquently explains how relevant this band still is and how they have managed to cling onto existence in this day and age; especially during the demise of so many of their peers. “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora” maintains their long string of great albums and nails the balance between hostility and melody more so than any other record Darkest Hour has created.

This balance remains cohesive throughout the entire album as there aren’t any tracks that sound more melodic or more belligerent than others. Those who prefer the band’s melodic tendencies will find that particular tracks such as ‘None of this is the Truth’ and ‘Those Who Survived’ hearken back to their “Deliver Us” days. During these songs, Darkest Hour demonstrates their ability to utilise the space created in some brief airy, dreamlike interludes to display additional guitar hooks and spiralling riffs. Commencing with mournful acoustics and drifting harmonies, “Widowed” is the only song on this album solely focused on tenderness; even though it only stands at 90 seconds long, it doesn’t feel like a redundant addition.

“Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora” is the first album of Darkest Hour’s catalogue with Kurt Ballou behind the sound desk. His coarse style of production compliments the band’s aggressive conviction in a way that makes each song sound especially ferocious. While there is a strict sense of melody located in each song, this album still sounds enraged. The opener, ‘Knife in a Safe Room’, and ‘The Flesh & The Flowers of Death’ wastes no time sliding into vigilant screams and introduces Mike Schleibaum and Michael Carrigan’s curiously jagged riffs. Travis Orbin also sounds just as wild as his peers while executing his violent blast beats and breathtaking fills during ‘This is the Truth’. Furthermore, each solo included on this album (and there are a lot) feels like it hasn’t been included pointlessly in the songs as they all propel the rapid rhythm Darkest Hour play to even further, most notably in the hostile ‘In The Name of Us All’.

Far from a negative, but due to the impressive musicianship, the core conceptual messages that this album is based on pass by relatively unnoticed. A few lyrics stand out during the rare moments that there isn’t an alarming guitar hook or an authoritative rhythm section, particularly the chorus on ‘Those Who Survived’, to portray the idea that Mother Nature- the most powerful force in existence- has reclaimed the Earth and that any industrialism, religion or politics humans once created is utterly irrelevant in this post-apocalyptic setting.

As impressive as this album is, it falls short of ground-breaking for heavy metal as a whole. Bands like Sylosis have already nailed the post-apocalyptic themes and there are various genres dedicated to playing the same type of belligerence that is displayed here. Nevertheless, focussing purely on Darkest Hour’s career, this is ground breaking. “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora” plunges the band head-first into an array of new territories and the band have come out looking stronger than they have been in a decade; perhaps even ever.

Originally written on http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/73123/Darkest-Hour-Godless-Prophets-and-The-Migrant-Flora/