Darkest Hour - The Hour Is Nigh

"If You're Metal You Should Be Into It"

Washington D.C metallers Darkest Hour are no strangers to the hard slog; ‘keeping their claws in’ for fifteen years, the band has seen mammoth changes throughout ‘Metal’ in their time. Currently touring globally, promoting their latest album The Human Romance – vocalist John Henry had Metal As Fuck on the wire through the week to chat about honing the sound of Darkest Hour and their upcoming Australian tour with Devildriver.

Could you give the readers a history of the band up until now, just for those who may not be familiar with Darkest Hour? “Well to summarise it, we started a super long time ago, we began in high school in 1995, it’s what we did, and it’s all we ever wanted to do. The first five years we slogged it out then in the year 2000 we began to tour full time, 10 years of touring! In that came seven albums, it’s been a blast!”

How would you describe your sound? “If you’re metal you should be into it [laughs] it’s a collection of our influences" As most bands can agree with this statement, who do you think the music appeals to? "The music of Darkest Hour is very much that of American metal with influences of Melodic European metal - definitely it would appeal to the punk and hardcore fans as it is a collaboration of both really. Being that it does have elements of European Melodic metal it opens the door to all new sound opportunities and also opens our fan base to that of the more melodically inclined”.

It has been stated that Darkest Hour are one of the pioneers of metalcore. Now being that metalcore bands are predominately from the United States, the scene is somewhat crowded to say the very least – how do you manage to keep your claws in? “My what? [Laughs] oh my claws, right. Well our music offers something different you know, this is important to us, to make sure we can have this ‘different’ aspect and turn it into a sound that is appreciated by many. The music is formulated in Swedish riffs and moves into breakdowns; it’s all a mixture of what inspires us and what we like”.

What differences have you noticed in the heavy metal ‘scene’ since the bands inception back those fifteen years ago? “Wow, yeah a tonne of changes, in my opinion! I believe metal has gotten bigger, back in the day and from my experience you would always have the massive signed bands like your Pantera, your Metallica and then the local bands which no one had heard of, there was no in between. (plus hardcore was always separate from metal back in the day). But these days – it’s all fused together you know, there is definitely a bigger audience for metal nowadays it’s like we’re all on the same page even though our preferences may be different”. Heavy metal will take over the world? “That’s the aim of many” John confidently added.

Now the current album from Darkest Hour – The Human Romance, at the moment being toured globally. Have you been nonstop promoting the album since its release? “Pretty much yeah, just nothing but touring. About 8 to 12 months so far, it’s just how we like it”. Where has the tour taken the band so far? “We’ve just finished the Summer Slaughter tour in the States and a tour with Machine Head through Europe and the States, it was awesome! Now we are getting ready for some seriously fun tours; we head to the Philippines and Japan then on to Australia for our third time I’m pretty sure, this will be our first big tour as we are heading over with Devildriver. The previous two were very underground headlining tours”. Which do you prefer? “It’s hard to choose you know, like on one hand you’re stoked to tour with a great band like Devildriver for instance, hangout, learn, recruit more fans. Yet headlining your own shows is also great, yes they’re underground but if you have the right market any tour can be successful. Can I like both?” [Laughs].  Sure, you’re the tour addict.

So tell us more about the album The Human Romance – what was expected from the album whilst writing it? “First and foremost we made sure our expectations were appeased, the album in itself was more thought out than previous and we honed the vision and the sound we wanted. It’s definitely more melodic than previous albums and a lot more refined. We are very happy with the album”. And how has the album been received by fans thus far? “It’s been weird, we are touring with it, and so for the first time we are predominantly playing material from the new album. We weren’t sure how this was going to go yet we were taken aback when all the fans at the shows were singing the new songs – that doesn’t happen!” [Laughs]

The lyrical style has shifted more from the political statements and proclamations the band have been motivated by in previous albums and more towards a personalised element in this album – was this intentional? “Yeah we did although it wasn’t really intentional. In each album we have been inspired by distinctive things and our opinions or protests of them, but this time around I thought ill leave politics for other people and write music that people can relate to more, I’d rather people relate to the music, it’s a better experience that way. So we went with the weird poetic lyrics”. [Laughs]

With the announcement in late 2011 that drummer Ryan Parrish has parted ways with Darkest Hour, how did this affect the band especially whilst still touring? Its fine really, we have Timothy Java [Dead To Fall] currently filling in at the moment and its working out great, he’s going really well. We have no pressure at the moment to lock in a drummer, nothing permanent as yet, we are just focusing on the tour at the moment and can’t wait to get back to Australia”.