Darkest Hour : Perpetual | Terminal

darkest hour perpetual terminal review

In the 24 years since Darkest Hour released their first album, The Mark of the Judas, the D.C. death metal/metalcore band have retained many of the core aspects of that first record’s sound. Throughout the years, they’ve continued to expand into catchier more melodic peaks and valleys, and their latest, Perpetual | Terminal opens with a song that summarizes what has made Darkest Hour one of the most enduring modern metal bands. Here they take their hardcore roots and bridge them with harmonized guitar lines rivaling the melo-death bands of Sweden. These elements fall into place in a manner that is both unrelenting and hooky. It’s in those hooks where their success lies, as there is now, a quarter-century after their founding, an overabundance of metalcore bands. Darkest Hour’s mission here is to reclaim their place at the top. 

They hit the listener with a more pummeling face-first assault on “Societal Bile,” which is not devoid of thrashing hooks, but carries a rawer, sharper edge. Guitarist Nico Santora brings high-capacity shredding with his guitar solos, which further distance where they are as a band on this album from their more blue-collar punk beginnings. For those of the mindset that Darkest Hour have become America’s answer to At the Gates, songs like “The Nihilist Undone” are possessed by the kind of hyper-aggressive guitar heroics that are only going to lend credence to these comparisons. 

Where Perpetual | Terminal breaks away from those tendencies is in the moments where Darkest Hour take a bolder, deeper dive into melody. The melodic singing on “One with the Void” is one of the best examples of how this brings a wider range of sonic colors. Having this kind of contrast creates a dynamic sense of things that justifies the rapid-fire riffing, rather than becoming a mush of galloping and chugs.  When they get lost in the need for speed they could very well be Lamb of God—if you took away all of Randy Blythe’s Pantera influence. But when the melody is given priority on “Mausoleum,” they allow themselves to plunge into a treasure trove of darker emotions. 

Cool riffs alone do not make a good song—thrashing frenzies must have room to breathe or it becomes white noise. On Perpetual | Terminal, Darkest Hour warrant praise for their willingness to not only not stagnate, but to keep pushing forward over two decades later. It is heavy enough to satisfy heshers who might otherwise just listen to Cannibal Corpse, yet the nuance they bring to the proceedings is what keeps Darkest Hour a step ahead of the pack.

Label: MNRK Heavy

Year: 2024

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darkest hour perpetual terminal review

Darkest Hour : Perpetual | Terminal

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