Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Darkest Hour - The Human Romance

Band: Darkest Hour
Album: The Human Romance
Year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

When you listen to The Human Romance you kind of get the feeling that Darkest Hour weren’t quite sure what direction to go in. And this is one of the biggest and pretty much only problems with THR. Instead of balancing melody and dissonance in each song the band just used a formula of heavy song and a little bit of melody, melodic song and a little bit of heaviness. This just sounds a little strange and it feels a bit confused like they couldn’t tell whether to make another The Eternal Return or do Undoing Ruin over again instead of meeting somewhere in the middle.

I have to say though that doesn’t mean these (softer) songs are bad. In fact they are all really quite enjoyable. Maybe Love as a Weapon comes off as the weakest track and that’s because it sort of crawls and only picks up energy during the chorus which is quite superb. Wound is a really great melodic track that has some of the better guitar harmonies on the album and a great chorus.

Speaking of harmonies, they seem to be given a little more emphasis on The Human Romance. I enjoy twin leads a lot so this was quite a treat for me. Like I said there are some more aggressive songs and as is usual for bands playing melodic death/metalcore the shortest ones happen to be the meanest. Violent by Nature and Your Everyday Disaster are blistering tracks with a very in your face attitude.

The band even shows a progressive side with Terra Solaris. This second instrumental is almost 9 minutes long but doesn’t get anywhere near boring. It starts with a little piano intro and builds a couple of times. The solos add a lot to the song and there is a really catchy riff in the back half of the song I wait for. And you can’t miss the acoustic interlude that reminds a lot of how In Flames and Dark Tranquillity used to throw them into their older material.

The band plays their instruments pretty well for what it is. I’m glad Ryan Parrish got over his kick of just using double bass for entire songs. Like on The Eternal Return the drumming is more varied here than it was on Deliver Us. The bass isn’t really anywhere to be found but this is melodic death metal. As I mentioned there are some good harmonies in the guitar department and to be honest Mike and Mike sound their best playing the thrash influenced tracks on here and the last album. John Henry’s vocals are their usual gravely self and he hasn’t changed that at all.

So The Human Romance is actually a good album as a whole. The band seems to sort of stumble with what kind of path they want to take but barring that and one questionable song it’s an enjoyable experience. It has something for those who enjoy their more aggressive/melodic moments separately. If you liked any of the last 3 albums you would be wise to pick The Human Romance up as well.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Wound

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