Darkest Hour - The Eternal Return (Victory/Stomp)

Being their sixth album, The Eternal Return combines a lot of Darkest Hour's best efforts from their older material with some different, and established, elements.

There are many bands in the worldwide metal scene that take a little bit out of many genres and mash it together, making something that, to the band's ears is unique and fresh, but to many listeners is contrived and boring. Well, although Darkest Hour do sit on the border, crossing melodic death with a bit of a hardcore influence, it thankfully stands out as something interesting and fresh. Their latest release, their sixth album The Eternal Return, achieves just that.

The opener Devolution Of Flesh jumps out like a bull out of a gate and just keeps charging at all the obstacles in its path with its intense pace and european metal like riffage, especially in the harmony and lead passages. A pretty decent choice for an opening track.

Some of the tracks on The Eternal Return do suffer from being a bit too samey and similar to their contemporaries at times such as Death Worship, A Distorted Utopia and Transcendence which sounds like old school Killswitch Engage.

But there are some stand-out tracks that offer something a bit different. No God and Black Sun have a bit more of a sludgier vibe crossed with their European metal like sound; Bitter has somewhat of a nitrous-laden, speed-punk edge to it all rolled up in its 1:20 brief barrage; The Tides is definately a nod to classic bands like At The Gates and In Flames, and that's not a bad thing as it is one of the definate stand out tracks and would be a crusher if it was included in the live set. Darkest Hour have always stated that the last track on their albums is a sign of where they are going: Into The Grey is therefore a definite positive sign of things to come.

From a musical standpoint, Darkest Hour are very good at what they do, the guitar work from Mike Schielbaum and new recruit Mike Carrigan (who replaces long time lead guitarist Kris Norris) is heavy, precise and very fluid in its harmony and lead work, which gives props and respect to the Gothenburg scene. The rhythm section of bassist Paul Burnette and drummer Ryan Parrish keep everything moving along solidly, vocalist John Henry sounds more pissed off than usual, his style sounding very similar to original Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach; at the same time, Leach's vocals also sound a bit one-sided at times: a little bit of variation vocally would open up a few doors for Darkest Hour.

Overall, The Eternal Return is a decent effort. Although it can be a bit cookie-cutter at times, the band is only getting stronger; this release and proves why they have been around as long as they have been, and demonstrates that they are not afraid to evolve. Fans of today's modern metal should check this out, where older and more traditional metal fans may find this a bit same-old. Despite this, there still might be something inside that could turn them around.

Darkest Hour's The Eternal Return is out now on Victory/Stomp.