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Darkest Hour "The Mark of the Judas" LP

Darkest Hour - The Mark of the Judas

An unlikely release coming from the Southern Lord camp, this limited edition LP marks the first time this record has been issued on vinyl. With "The Mark of the Judas", Darkest Hour's sound truly started on the melodic Swedish death metal tangent that they've been honing ever since, whereas their work recorded prior to this album was more than a bit different, leaning towards the more metallic side of metalcore. But this fucker is jam packed with quality riffs and a tight performance. The sick, distorted vocals are a bit too up front, and I wish the guitar tone was a little more crisp and honed to define the riffs better, but the drumming rules and I love the reverb on the snare tone, giving it a really interesting sound. And even when the riffs stagnate, the drumming constantly evolves with altered beats and fills to build power from underneath. The clean instrumental, "Part II", shows their knack for melodies and dual guitar lines, while the final track, "How the Beautiful Decay", is a benchmark of sheer intensity and a perfect fucking end for the record. There's no better way to go out... and quite honestly the band has never topped the pure mastery of this song. The LP sleeve contains the same outer artwork as the CD, but there's no insert, instead opting for the lyrics to be printed in compact type on the back cover. Very nice. And the LP is on clear vinyl to boot. Despite their obvious changes in style with this release (at the time), the band did become great songwriters in the process. Most every song here is catchy and solid, but nothing pushes any boundaries, basically sounding not unlike "The Jester Race" era In Flames played with the feel of mid- to late-period At the Gates. This stands the test of time, though. When the CD was originally released on M.I.A. the label sort of died out before the album got its due promotion, which is a shame. Luckily it didn't impact the band too heavily, but there are still some raging songs on this puppy that shouldn't be missed. It's worth the price for "How the Beautiful Decay" alone... (7/10)
[Southern Lord]
Running time - 40:00 (approximately), Tracks: 9
[Notable tracks: For the Soul of the Savior, The Legacy, Part II, How the Beautiful Decay]
Southern Lord Recordings - http://www.southernlord.com

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Other "Darkest Hour" releases reviewed (3):
Darkest Hour "Undoing Ruin" CD [Victory] (July 06, 2005)
Darkest Hour "Party Scars and Prison Bars - A Thrashography" DVD [Victory] (February 24, 2005)
Darkest Hour "Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation" CD [Victory] (May 01, 2003)

Reviews with a reference to "Darkest Hour" (19):
Nehemiah "The Asphyxiation Process" CD [Uprising] (September 01, 2003)
A Perfect Murder "Cease to Suffer" CD [Goodfellow] (September 01, 2003)
Slowmotion Apocalypse "My Own Private Armageddon" CD [Tribunal] (May 02, 2005)
v/a "The New England Metal & Hardcore Festival 2003" DVD [Trustkill] (May 01, 2004)
Winds "The Imaginary Direction of Time" CD [The End] (May 01, 2004)
Winter Solstice "The Fall of Rome" CD [Metal Blade] (March 02, 2005)
I Hate Sally "The Plague" CD [DB Records] (June 09, 2005)
Nehemiah "Lenore" CD [Uprising] (June 02, 2005)
I Hate Sally "Sickness of the Ages" CD [Blacula] (June 01, 2004)
Age of Ruin "The Tides of Tragedy" CD [Eulogy] (July 22, 2004)
As I Lay Dying "Frail Words Collapse" CD [Metal Blade] (July 01, 2003)
Step "Suffer in Your Stillness" CD [Illumina] (July 01, 2003)
Fate Thirteen "Things Will Never Be the Way They Were Before" CD [United Edge] (January 01, 2004)
Another Kind of Death "Unfinished" CD [self-released] (February 01, 2003)
Beyond the Sixth Seal "Earth and Sphere" CD [Lifeforce] (February 01, 2003)
Darkdayrising "Underworld Dreams" CD [self-released] (February 01, 2003)
Goatsblood/Suppression "Split" CD [Paranoize] (April 18, 2005)
Mi Amore "The Lamb" CD [Cyclop] (April 15, 2005)
Foreknown "Calm Seas Don't Make Sailors" CD [Blood & Ink] (April 07, 2005)

Other reviews from the label "Southern Lord" (10):
Twilight "s/t" CD [Southern Lord] (September 06, 2005)
Nortt/Xasthur "Split" CD [Southern Lord] (June 23, 2005)
Thrones "Day Late, Dollar Short" CD [Southern Lord] (June 23, 2005)
Nachtmystium "Eulogy IV" CD [Southern Lord] (June 07, 2005)
Sunn "The Grimmrobe Demos" CD [Southern Lord] (April 15, 2005)
Urgehal "Through Thick Fog Till Death" CD [Southern Lord] (March 02, 2005)
Saint Vitus "V" CD [Southern Lord] (August 10, 2004)
Thorr's Hammer "Dommedagsnatt" CD [Southern Lord] (June 01, 2004)
The Obsessed "Incarnate" CD [Southern Lord] (June 01, 2004)
Place of Skulls "With Vision" CD [Southern Lord] (February 01, 2004)
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