ALBUM REVIEW: Darkest Hour - Perpetual | Terminal

ALBUM REVIEW: Darkest Hour - Perpetual | Terminal

*Perpetual | Terminal will be released February 23rd, 2024 on MNRK Heavy*

D.C. metalcore act Darkest Hour return with their tenth studio album, Perpetual | Terminal. Their first album in seven years since Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora. Have these titans of 2000's metalcore returned with a vengeance after a seven year hiatus? Yes they have, and with the talented guitar soloing on this record and aggression in the vocals, they sound as good and as angry as ever.

The album opens with the title track. With cascading, dueling guitar harmonies opening the track, the atmosphere builds in a melodic death metal way you would hear on an Amon Amarth album. Then the metalcore and d-beat style drumming bust the door open, into growls by John Henry. The song channels the metalcore sound of the band's early releases while mixing melodic death metal elements in the track. The guitars of Nico Santora & Mike Schleibaum strive to go fast paced & intricate while fretboard hopping on the main riff. Travis Orbin's drums pummel behind them and have such a booming effect in the mix. A great guitar solo with double bass behind it after the halfway mark, into a heavenly acoustic passage hits so good. Adding a progressive element to the track. Then the song re-intensifies with the chorus again for the end into another clean acoustic section. A heavy track and a great opening to the album.

Next is "Societal Bile", with thundering drum hits opening the track, the song almost has a thrash metal opening with its wailing, Slayer like guitar wails and blast beat style drumming. Then teasing a short breakdown before going into pedal to the metal speed. The song sounds like the band at their most pissed off in the vocals by Henry. The chorus is catchy and heavy with the pounding snare hits in the mix behind the vocals. A chugging riff into a half metalcore/half crossover thrash riff sound is so awesome and heavy. A definite pit starter live as it goes into the breakdown at the three quarters mark & throughout the rest of the track. I LOVE this track, showing the band can stray away from the metalcore sound and go even faster, heavier and even more ferocious in their sound. "A Prayer To The Holy Death" has a great opening riff into pounding double bass and Henry's snarling screams. The guitar playing by Santora is impressive on the track in the guitar solo. Then with the addition of the harmonies at the halfway mark, just sound so good. Pounding drums and riffage at the end of the song makes it another strong track. Showcasing the band hasn't lost a single step in their sound since their last album.

With "The Nihilist Undone", the reverbed heavy drums kick the song off like a punch to the face, before the guitars kick in and deliver that nostalgic metalcore sound in their tone. I love the chuggy, start/stop feel in the playing before sweeping guitars behind it into the chorus sound so good to any guitarist. The melodic death metal sound is prominent on this track with a definite Gothenburg sound on the guitar tone and playing. Henry's gutturals are deep and visceral in his screaming. The clean guitars, with strumming acoustic behind it, create a beautiful dynamic shift in the track. With the rhythm section carrying the track to let the guitars shine. Possibly one of my favorite tracks of the album. "One With The Void" has a deep, gritty ominous guitar opening, accented by thunderous drum hits behind it. Clean vocals appear on the track, starting to rise in delivery, adding to the eeriness and moodiness of the song. The song kicks into more aggression after the quarter mark. Adding a snarl and evil sounding chorus before switching back to clean vocals. Giving off an angel/devil on your shoulders feel with the song hopping between both elements. Orbin's drums hit hard behind a wailing guitar solo as Aaron Deal's bass rings and accents the moody demeanor of the song. A slowed down track, but a great song adding atmosphere and unease to the song.

"Amor Fati" opens with ear piecing high guitars into a complex solo, accented with simple underlying guitars. Orbin's drums appear behind it, adding a pulse to the emotional guitar solo. I love this instrumental track. On "Love is Fear", the driving drums kick the song off into classic 2000's metalcore riffage while Henry screams his guts out on the verse section. The guitar solo has again that classic 80's thrash nostalgia with the playing style, which fits the band's sound on this record really well. The song is just intense, heavy and fast. Channeling that pissed-off energy that metalcore delivers so well. "New Utopian Dream" opens with a chugging, palm-muted riff that instantly gives you that stank face feel when you hear it. Henry's impressively high screams, soaked in reverb add more punch in the performance. I love the guitars almost harmonizing with his vocal highs on the chorus. The verse section of the song creates so much tension into the chugging riff on the verses. I can picture the pit going crazy with the build of the song and then with the chugging section accompanying it.

Vocalist John Henry

"Mausoleum" opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar passage and clean vocals by Henry. The harmonies on the song's title sound so good and is mixed well, adding just enough extra punch in his vocals without being buried or heavily modified. The song shifts into a heavier direction and delivery. Electric guitars kick in, along with booming drums by Orbin on the kick drum. Then, dropping the tempo and mood back to the clean opening, with vocal harmonies behind him before going for the throat for the rest of the track. "My Only Regret" instantly punches you in the face with it's opening vocal delivery. The riff and energy of the track is classic metalcore with its intensity. The vocals, over Orbin's drums and ringing guitars before the chorus, channels the metalcore and hardcore elements of the band's early records and I dig that. I love the guitar solo near the end of the track, showcasing the band wants to shred HARD on this album. The album's closing track "Goddess of War, Give Me Something To Die For", starts with a beautiful, reverb heavy opening acoustic guitar passage. Atmosphere is heavy with the song, creating an ethereal feel to it with the dueling guitars and effects. Then, the almost cinematic guitar and drum build kicks in, building and building the energy of the song. Picturing the crowd getting ready for the drop to hit as the pace quickens. Santora & Schleibaum shine during this section, then Orbin shines with the drum build as the song picks up faster. The song begins to take on a life of its own with its layering and building throughout it. Henry's gutturally high shrieks over the fast-paced guitar riffing instantly makes you bob your head along to it. A strong closer for this awesome album from this classic metalcore act.

Overall, Perpetual | Terminal is a strong release and a great return for Darkest Hour. While still channeling their classic metalcore sound of early releases, the band developed and included more melodic death metal into their sound, along with amping up the guitar playing with impressive solos throughout the entire record. I was wowed with how good this record was, and how the band has developed and changed over the years. A great record for any metalcore fan, melodic death metal fan, and just heavy metal in general.

SCORE: 10 / 10

1) Perpetual Terminal

2) Societal Bile

3) A Prayer To The Holy Death

4) The Nihilist Undone

5) One With The Void

6) Amor Fati

7) Love is Fear

8) New Utopian Dream

9) Mausoleum

10) My Only Regret

11) Goddess of War, Give Me Something To Die For

For Fans Of: Shadows Fall, Unearth, As I Lay Dying

The band is about to launch the Perpetual | Terminal tour starting at the end of February featuring openers I Am, Mouth For War, Filth is Eternal and Somnuri. If you want to get tickets to this tour, check out for tickets.

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