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Things were looking pretty bleak for Darkest Hour in 2009. Their last album “Deliver Us” was inconsistent in both quality and tone. The band was seemingly torn between extending further into atmospheric and melodic territory similar to that of their producer Devin Townsend, and staying true to aggressive hardcore infused melodic death metal that they built their name on. This division shifted from metaphor to reality when Kris Norris, the band’s sweep happy lead guitarist, quit the group. Norris had been responsible for much of the band’s shift into more melodic territory, and his solos were a large factor in Darkest Hour’s growing popularity in the metalcore scene. The announcement of his replacement, Mike Carrigan of “At All Cost”, a mediocre hard rock act, complicated matters further. Could he live up to the shred standard set by Norris, would Darkest Hour continue to wander aimlessly? Needless to say, the fan base was worried.
When “No God” finally hit the Internet, we realized pretty quickly that we had no reason to worry. It became clear that Kris Norris was the source of much of the questionable melodic experimentation on “Deliver Us” and without him the band was free to thrash to their heart’s content. This isn’t to say that “No God” sacrifices melody for brutality. On the contrary, the song remains firmly entrenched in the melodeath convention of having all riffs be hummable to some degree or another. However, the band captures this memorability and catchiness without dumbing down the structure of the song. The form is based on a standard “verse-chorus” structure, but every time the chorus comes around it’s altered in some way. The bridge is even more elaborate, showcasing Carrigan’s lead work, new harmonically adventurous progressions and solid riff development.
Lyrically the song marks a shift from the positive thinking and personal issues of the last two Darkest Hour records and instead tackles the age-old topic of atheism vs. theism. John Henry certainly isn’t saying anything new here, but the lyrics fit the mold well enough and are poetic enough to avoid sounding sloppy and immature. Given that the record this single is promoting is a reference to a Nietzsche concept this choice in subject matter is thematically appropriate and is an interesting step forward for the band.