The Human Romance
07 March 2011
by Tomas Doyle
Dear Thrash Hits readers, its confession time, and it’s a big one… When I was growing up, I wasn’t actually really into metal at all. Mine was a adolescence dominated by the likes of Greenday and Pennywise. Latterly I was introduced to harder sounds by the raucous East Coast hardcore of bands like Sick of it All and Ensign, but throughout it all I remained a resolutely punk rock kid. You see I (naively) viewed punk as being an important counter-culture for the politically aware youth, while metal was an also-ran for smelly middle aged men and meatheads with shit haircuts.
One band changed all this for good however. That band was Darkest Hour.
Finally! Here was a group who combined the fun and integrity one commonly associates with punk, with the slash and burn approach of thrash metal. The riffs were absolutely face-melting, the solos mindblowing, the lyrics caustic and the delivery ferocious. With Devin Townsend behind the desk they produced arguably two of the best records of the modern metal era, namely Undoing Ruin and Deliver Us, and whilst the loss of lead axe-man Kris Norris saw them return to a more straight forward aproach on most recent effort The Eternal Return the Darkest Hour machine rumbles on in tireless, trendless form.
So what of The Human Romance then? Well the first thing to note is that if you weren’t a Darkest Hour fan before, there will probably be very little which will change your mind here. All is, essentially, as it ought to be. Ryan Parrish’s drums are as insistent and driving as ever, Mike Schleibaum’s riffs are in turn spikey and triumphant whilst returning member Mike ‘Lonestar‘ Carrigan fills the hole left by Norris’ with an admirable contribution. There has always been an inate melodicism central to even Darkest Hour’s densest work and they have cranked this aspect of their sound to 11 on The Human Romance. Tracks like ‘Beyond The Live You Know’ and ‘Savour the Kill’ see John Henry letting his voice break into a gruff singing voice which brings an emotional gravitas to the racing fretwork and swaggering, head-banging riffs.
Where this record is perhaps lacking (and arguably what Townsend brought to the table as a producer) is that none of these songs reach the climactic highs or throbbing, earthshaking, lows that previous efforts have. For the fan, pretty much everything here fits the template of what you would expect, without ever pushing into the ‘exceptional’ category. There has clearly been progression since the bands early days, but over the course of these twelve songs they can appear a touch sonically one dimensional at times.
Watch Darkest Hour give a tour of studio they recorded The Human Romance in:
That said, in a scene which in recent years has grown fat with bands who can seem like carbon copies of each other, there is an authenticity to Darkest Hour which remains refreshing. When they hit top speed, which they arguably do here on ‘Your Everyday Disaster’ they are still absolutely supreme – face-ripping, old fashioned thrash fun to circle pit, stage dive and generally get rad to. In essence, this is a ‘good’ Darkest Hour album, nothing more, nothing less. Business as usual – but business is still good.
Sounds Like: At the Gates, Soilwork.
Top Tracks: Your Everyday Disaster, Love as a Weapon, Savor the Kill
Darkest Hour – The Human Romance tracklisting:
The World Engulfed in Flames
Savor the Kill
Man & Swine
Love as a Weapon
Your Everyday Disaster
Violent by Nature
Severed into Separates
Beyond the Life You Know