Darkest Hour

support Protest The Hero + Born Of Osiris + Purified In Blood
author BL date 30/01/11 venue Relentless Garage, London, UK

The start of a new year always brings new and more exciting shows. Which if this show bill is anything to go by, we have one hell of a year in store for us. Suffice to say that a lineup consisting of Born Of Osiris, Protest The Hero, and Darkest Hour alone boasts some serious musicianship at the cutting edge of their individual crafts. The headliner Darkest Hour being one of the earlier bands of the Melodic Death Metal meets Metalcore genre that I actually got into many, many years ago added extra incentive. The weather was pretty unforgiving though for the leadup to the show itself, it was blisteringly cold and chilled right down to the bone in sub zero temperatures - we braved the icy weather to make it to the venue. Also thanks to engineering work happening throughout the London tube network, we didn't get to the venue until the show actually began.

Purified In Blood

By the time we actually made it inside, the band was already onstage and well into their set. We caught most of the penultimate song as well as the closing track to their set. Admittedly I didn't get myself too acquainted with the band before tonight save for a few plays on their myspace. From those plays and what I heard when I saw them, their part metalcore part thrash sound was one that while solid, did not have as much lasting nor immediate appeal at least from a personal opinion compared to the other bands on tonight. They were pretty metal in every sense and from what little I managed to see, at the very least put on a pretty decent performance as a few people in the crowd seemed genuinely stoked and moving to the music - there even being a small circle pit at the end. As per usual I won't grade because I didn't see enough - would not be fair.

Born Of Osiris

Born Of Osiris's last album "A Higher Place" was something that really deserved a better reception from the general press than it did from my perspective. It may have been less accessible, less deathcore and more progressive and eccentric - but it was also more original, showing some remarkable progression since their debut "The New Reign". That said, it seemed to me like they played more songs from "The New Reign" than from "A Higher Place", especially as there were more breakdowns both on "The New Reign" and here at the show itself (which they played well no less). I think I caught "Rosecrance", "Bow Down", and the pretty special "Abstract Art" (with it's absolutely ridiculous but fantastic keyboard-led breakdown) at the least - and I'm fairly sure I heard "Open Arms To Damnation" with it's wicked riffing and melodic instrumentation. From "A Higher Place" we had the obvious "Now Arise" amongst a few others. One completely new song called "Recreate" was played, and it sounded very good - themselves both old and new, but with a hint of Periphery with some super gorgeous melodic lead guitars. If this is anything to go by, the new album should be a seriously exciting prospect. Performance wise the band had the entire audience around it's grasp with the crowd reacting very well to what they saw and heard - and it was pretty easy to understand why with a performance this solid. You could tell they wanted to be there to enjoy themselves to the fullest.


Protest The Hero

I don't think I had ever seen a band seem so pretentious yet so "cool", so casual yet so blisteringly intense in just about every sense of their stage presence. Frontman Rody just walks on with a few cans of beer before jumping straight into the set (consuming the beer steadily as the set went on), and from there minds are just blown by their super technical axe-play. It was pretty obvious that a strong contingent of the crowd were here just for them as well, showing their full support and being rewarded by a face full of guitar noodling as effortless as breathing air. The bassist sported the look of "yeah I'm the fucking boss of the bass and don't I know it", and seemed slightly comical as his speed and ease at which he switched from fast finger tapping to some complex rhythm section was just bewildering to watch (this made even more amusing as at one point he accidentally repeated one section once too many when the other guitars stopped and he failed to follow suit). The impressive instrumentation aside, Rody was more or less as good as it gets - crooning note after note in perfect pitch and occasionally the harrowing scream or growl (not to mention engaging the audience with questionable yet amusing jokes about homosexual front men, dicks, and other obscene material). Songwise we got a bit of "Kezia" from the expected songs "No Stars Over Bethlehem" and "Blindfolds Aside", and a fair portion of "Fortress" with songs that included "Sequoia Throne", "Spoils" and more and lastly "Bloodmeat" to round off at the end. Three new songs from their imminent new album "Scurrilous" were played: "C'est La Vie", another one which Rody didn't name, and "Dunsel", the latter being the most impressive out of the three - Protest at their most explosive, inventive best. For the fan, Protest did pretty much no wrong and sounded great (obviously aside from the bassist's little error), although I can imagine for a more casual listener the way the band just looks like they're chilling on stage and did nothing but crank out the licks like it was just an excercise in blowing our minds might have caused some of the songs to pass over their heads slightly.


Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour used to be one of my favourite bands from the US doing the whole American take on Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal years back when I was still young, and with that I was quietly looking forward to seeing what these guys would be like so long down the road since the days I listened to them a lot more. For one thing, these guys came through the smoke (literally on stage) to shred and play like the best of them and be as good as I can imagine them to be. The set they played was a fairly decent and lengthy one, though with the intention of playing songs from every single of the albums out of the six out so far, you knew this was something special for more hardcore fans of the band in particular - which was a shame that it seemed like unfortunately some of the Protest fans had left after Protest The Hero finished their set so the whole floor seemed less busy. It was also a shame I wasn't more familiar therefore with their material pre-"Undoing Ruin", so my setlist is a little sketchy in terms of all the song titles.

From what I could recognise, we got two great songs from Undoing Ruin: crowd pleaser "With A Thousand Words To Say But One" and their set closer "Convalescence" (which was pretty damn epic and one I was looking forward to the most) - it was only just a shame that "Tranquil" wasn't included but I guess you can't have everything. From "Deliver Us" we got the set opener "Doomsayer" and the obvious choice in "Demon(s)". From the newest album we got "The Tides" (damn that solo is good) and "Into the Grey". Some of the older songs included "An Epitaph", "How the Beautiful Decay" and "Veritas, Aequitas" which I hadn't heard before, but it was a very long and rather tasteful, atmospheric instrumental that had the guitarists switch a few times midway to acoustics and even the vocalist John Henry taking up a third guitar.

As a whole I must say that there was not much more Darkest Hour could have done any better. They played well, there was always a strong stage presence and there were a few great moments of showmanship - like having the guitarists (including bass) all pointing their guitar axes together and shredding or soloing. I think vocally John sounded as well as he could have and performed like on the record. Simply put if you like Darkest Hour, you definitely got your money's worth. As for the whole night I don't think I could professionally comment on which was the best band, they all had something to offer and different styles (with similar themes) with all strong focuses on being able to play their instruments and perform at a super high level. Personally I would have loved to hear a few more songs from "Deliver Us" and especially "Undoing Ruin" ("Tranquil"!) but that aside, I was happy that 2011 started with such a strong show for me to see.


Photos courtesy of Lauren Harris. To see the rest of the photos check out Lauren Harris Photography's facebook page.

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