Your Darkest Hour
posted on 12/2005 By:
Living in a region that churns out perhaps the highest number of garbage bands in Ontario, I’m always leery of independently produced demos. Dark Haven’s five-song EP, Your Darkest Hour, is just that: a self-released CD. There’s a key difference between Dark Haven and the droves of horrible bands that populate my hometown, however. Rather than sounding like a bunch of teenagers who heard As I Lay Dying’s latest and proceeded to create a “band” (“band” is interchangeable with “MySpace account”), Your Darkest Hour’s five songs show maturity, creativity, and most importantly, a great deal of potential.
Dark Haven is decidedly rooted in the Gothenburg school of sound, mixing the best elements of melodeath mainstays like Dark Tranquillity and In Flames with newer entrants into the genre such as Nightrage, The Duskfall and countrymen The Absence. The result is an entertaining (if not entirely original) EP that’s bound to catch the attention of one or more of the dominant metal labels.
Opener “Nightmare” provides a good taste of what to expect from the rest of the tracks: an addictive lead melody, pounding bass, and solid drumming that keeps the band firmly together. Vocalist Brandon McLaughlin has the same desperate, rasping tone to his scream as that of Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne, but he manages to maintain his own distinctive delivery, which helps give the band their own identity in an overcrowded genre. The vocals are at their best when augmented by rough clean singing (very similar to those found on From Your Grave by The Absence), like on the title track and closer, “Your Darkest Hour”. Of particular note on this release are the keys. Kent Crisp uses the instrument very subtly; it’s always present, but it never takes the spotlight away from the other instruments. This gives guitarists Brennan Kilpatrick and Amy Zion ample room to create some very memorable melodies while still contributing another layer to the group’s overall sound.
If you’re one of the many listeners who are completely burnt out on melodeath in any shape or form, then Your Darkest Hour obviously isn’t a release you’ll be getting overly excited about. For me however, it’s another sign that the proverbial genre torch is being passed into the hands of some very capable young bands. It’s also proof that independent releases need not always be dreaded.
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