DARKEST HOUR – Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation

While it seems that 80% of the east coast hardcore scene has recently jumped on the Gothenburg bandwagon, Virginia’s DARKEST HOUR have been delivering their own brand of Swedish-influenced thrash since ’95. With the release of Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation, Victory‘s first real metal band have delivered what may be their defining album. The album is complimented by with the band’s best production to date, handled by none other than famed-producer Fredrik Nordstrom. He is the man responsible for churning out some of Sweden’s best metal albums. Recorded at Studio Fredman (where else?), Hidden Hands offers a sound that is both crisp and clean, yet razor-sharp. This is something that was lacking on the somewhat muddy sound of the band’s previous album, So Sedate, So Secure. But aside from the obvious improvements in sound, listeners can practically hear the band brimming with enthusiasm as singer John Henry screams his lungs out, drummer Ryan Parrish beats the piss out of his kit, and guitarists Mike and Kris deliver their catchiest, most melodic riffs to date. The first three songs on the album practically lay waste to the band’s previous work. In addition to the contributions of Nordstrom and Studio Fredman, the band, perhaps taking a cue from Max Cavalera (whose made a career of having guest musicians overpopulate his SOULFLY albums), have enlisted the talents of some of Sweden’s finest, including Tomas Lindberg (ex-AT THE GATES, THE GREAT DECEIVER), Anders Bjorler (ex-AT THE GATES, THE HAUNTED), Peter Wichers (SOILWORK), and Marcus Sunesson (THE CROWN). Wichers and Sunesson contribute to the band’s thirteen-minute epic closer, “Veritas Aequitas.” So while the east-coast hardcore scene continues to adopt “the Swedish sound”, DARKEST HOUR have always proudly worn their influences on their sleeves. The band’s energy, conviction, and enthusiasm makes their lack of originality almost forgivable. Despite the album’s artwork, label, and the band’s repeated insistence on their hardcore and punk influence (there’s nothing on here that even remotely resembles BLACK FLAG, SICK OF IT ALL or the DEAD KENNEDYS), Hidden hands of a Sadist Nation is a metal album through and through and surprisingly, a very good one at that. (Victory Records)

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