Darkest Hour – Perpetual | Terminal (Album Review)

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Of all the American Metalcore acts to emerge from the early 2000s that stake claim of being influenced by Swedish Melodic Death Metal, arguably the most pronounced of them would have to be Darkest Hour. Out of the Washington DC area, Darkest Hours’ roots date all the way back to 1995; when they first formed and began to forge their own path in the Metal scene. Honing their sound, they would soon sign up with the now inactive Victory Records, and by 2009 dished out five successful albums with the label (three of which reached peak charting positions – 2005’s Undoing Ruin, 2007’s Deliver Us, and 2009’s The Eternal Return).

Steadily moving forward since those days, Darkest Hour has remained consistent with their music that is heavily melodic, aggressive, and intelligently composed. Having more in common with bands like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity or Arch Enemy (with Johan Liiva on vocals), opposed to US acts like Killswitch Engage or Unearth, now in 2024, they further prove their worth as an elite Melodic Death Metal act with their latest album Perpetual | Terminal. 

Out on February 23rd through MNRK Heavy, and the band’s first studio album in nearly seven years, Perpetual | Terminal is a testament to their maturity, but also amply ability to sustain an energy that is as potent as their younger days. Truly a combination of experience and a tendency to keep an internal fire burning, the music that makes up the album certainly sounds like a lot of care was put into it all. Seven years is a very long time, and a lot can happen in that time; you can lose inspiration, cast-off in a different direction, or simply move on completely. That being said, it appears the members of Darkest Hour – Vocalist John Henry, Guitarist Mike Schleibaum, Bassist Aaron Deal, Drummer Travis Orbin, as well as new Guitarist Nico Santora – captured something that is sincerely from their hearts with this album. 

Offering out eleven songs in total, Perpetual | Terminal has a mood that is one of resilience, introspective reflection, and surviving. What this means is that the band capture their frustrations, anger, rage, and everything in-between and directly deliver them in songs that are a reminder that life is non-linear, an end is imminent, and if we are going to get anywhere, we actually need to make an effort. Matching this message, the melodies are irresistible and the aggressive attack impossible to deny.

Case and point, the opening title-track really sums up the entire album in under six minutes; because it encapsulates everything the band is trying to get across here. However, this in no way suggests you should not indulge in the remainder of Perpetual | Terminal. It just references how focused the band were when creating this record. Further examples include “A Prayer to the Holy Death,” the clean vocal lead “One With the Void,” and the absolute must listen “Mausoleum.”  Just points to bookmark when digging into the album, it would also behoove you to pay close attention to album closer “Goddess of War, Give Me Something to Die For” with its beautiful over two minute only instrumental opening before coming on full force.

In the end, Darkest Hour found something special over the years away from releasing new music, and it is Perpetual | Terminal. A proud moment for Darkest Hour and one that was well worth waiting for, Cryptic Rock gives their new album 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Darkest Hour Perpetual | Terminal
Darkest Hour – Perpetual | Terminal / MNRK Heavy (2024)

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