Darkest Hour

support Malefice + Glamour Of The Kill
author PP date 25/01/08 venue Barfly, London, UK

Darkest Hour at a venue as intimate and renowned for its great sound as Camden Barfly? Was I excited? Fuck yeah. Having seen the band four times in three different countries before tonight, it's safe to say that this band puts on blinding live show every single time. With outside temperatures far too close to the freezing point, the contrast between the short queue outside the venue and the inside of the tiny venue was massive - the effect surely matching that of walking into a hot sauna with all your clothes on. But that kind of atmosphere always makes for the best gigs; sweating with maximum a 150 other diehard fans without a barrier is always bound to be the definition of an intimate gig.

So everything was pretty much set for an ace show from start to finish. That is until the support bands came on stage. First up was Malefice, Reading, UK based metallers that mix together a furious form of thrash and metalcore - 'thrashcore' if you like. Though that's not necessarily the sound you'd expect when you see the band jump on stage for the first time - the expression "metal as fuck" is how I'd describe their appearance, starting from the massive muscles of the bear-like frontman, going through the all-tattooed bodies of all members, finishing off at the metal-beards; the atypical death metal outlook. So based on that stereotype I thought "alright, lots of headbanging and that sorts" which is exactly what the band gave us. Loads of hair, but little substance. The apparent lack of melody in many of their songs stung my ears, and the songs seemed to be repeating the same generic metalcore riff formula over and over again, leaving little to differentiate the songs from one another. Though the band started with a bang, and opened up an evil pit in the midst of the tiny venue, they went progressively worse and worse until the end, where they finally slowed down from the breakneck speed and inserted some droning melody into the songs. Distinctly average.

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But compared to Glamour Of The Kill, Malefice were more like the headliners of tonight. I'd have to go for a long trip down the memory lane to remember a time when I would've seen Camden Barfly as dead as during their set. Not a soul was moving or clapping. As I looked around I found less than a handful of people even nodding along, and even that might be an exaggeration. Most people were like me, standing in confusion over whether or not this band was serious or just joking around before they'd start their real set. You see, not only did every single one of them look exactly like everyone in a band like Blessthefall - styled emo-haircuts, died black hair and skintight clothing - but their music was the reason why people sometimes react to metalcore with pure hatred. Imagine Bullet For My Valentine releasing a b-sides disc with only one or two screams in total. Not a single one of Glamour Of The Kill's songs would've made it to that disc. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if they wouldn't even be on a c-sides release. As each song was filled with cliché lyrics (in the vein of Hawthorne Heights, only MUCH worse), absolutely horrible clean vocals, and riffs that were at best below average, I was standing there not knowing whether I should laugh or cry. Couple that with ridiculously unenergetic stage show, and you've got yourself a pretty damn terrible show. When the band launched onto their final song "Rise From Your Grave" and burst out the lyrics "rise from your grave and take my hand (woo-oooh)", I finally cracked and burst out laughing.

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So after a humorous thirty minutes or so, which myself and AP and a few others spent discussing on exactly how terrible Glamour Of The Kill had been, the lights finally dimmed and Darkest Hour arrived on stage, blasting straight into "Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)", receiving a thunderous scream as a response from the fans. From that point on I knew these kids near the front would know every lyric, and indeed so, you could hear people screaming along even to the bits where myself, one of the band's most avid fans, was struggling to remember every shriek. Not that it mattered because for once, the sound at the Darkest Hour show was brilliant, and you could hear frontman John Henry's every scream the way it was meant to be heard. "Sanctuary" then got people moving a bit more, but after "Sound The Surrender" it was clear which album the fans tonight like the best. If your eyes weren't fixated on the amazing fretwork of the two guitarists during the twin-guitar solo, you would've seen dozens of fingers up in the air moving back and forth in rapid succession, and people living the solo with every breathing cell of their body.

I'm sure based on that description you can guess the reaction that followed "With A Thousand Words To Say But One", but in case you don't, monumental is the right word to describe it. People were literally jumping on each others shoulders to scream the words "AND TO REFLECT IS TO REGRET THROWING IT ALL AWAY", everyone seemed to be crowd surfing and jumping on stage, which the band didn't mind at all. As a special treat to the band's oldest fans, the band threw in "A Blessing In Tragedy" from the band's debut album "The Mark Of The Judas", followed by the eight minute mammoth "Accessible Losses" from "Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation". A couple of songs later the band finished off the set with another old favorite "The Sadist Nation". And though I would've happily sacrificed either one with a couple more songs from "Undoing Ruin", it was refreshing to hear something from the band that they haven't played the last four times I've seen them. In the end however, this Darkest Hour show wasn't perhaps their best in terms of the setlist, but as always, that isn't a problem because their stage appearance is among the best in the music industry.

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Setlist:

1. Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)

2. Sanctuary

3. Sound The Surrender

4. Demon(s)

5. An Ethereal Drain

6. With A Thousand Words To Say But One

7. A Paradox With Flies

8. A Blessing In Tragedy

9. Accessible Losses

10. Deliver Us

11. Convalescence

12. The Sadist Nation

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