Down With Heavy

24 April 2012 | 9:00 am | Brendan Crabb

They haven’t accrued the sales figures or enormous crowds of some of their more famous peers, but US metal outfit Darkest Hour aren’t wasting time thinking about whether or not their time is now, vocalist John Henry tells Brendan Crabb.

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Prior to every two-bit American metalcore band circa 2004 namechecking (and pilfering countless riffs from) albums such as At The Gates' Slaughter Of The Soul and In Flames' The Jester Race as reference points, the Swedish melodic death metal sound had yet to make much of an impact Stateside. Washington's Darkest Hour were one of the first US metal acts to openly acknowledge influences from the Swedeath sound, as evidenced by under-appreciated records like 2001's So Sedated, So Secure and 2003's Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation.

When asked if there's any bitterness about some of their younger contemporaries arguably jumping on the bandwagon and subsequently achieving greater success, frontman John Henry doesn't sound fazed. “Yeah, I don't know who else was doing it back in like '97, '98,” he responds. “That's when Mike [Schleibaum, guitars] and I discovered all this awesome Swedish metal like Entombed and At The Gates and that started influencing our sound as early as then. Nowadays, we're kinda influenced by that and pretty much everything we like, [including] American metal like Pantera and Metallica.

“It was a little weird I guess,” he says of other bands suddenly latching onto that sound. “But we just like to do our own thing and don't really pay too much attention to that kind of stuff. I think a lot of people just realised that kind of metal was awesome and started incorporating it into their music. Then everyone kind of went in different directions with it. It was really good metal, so I'm not surprised it influenced a lot of people. You can't really get too jaded about that or else you end up just being a bitter old fuck, you know?” he laughs. “We've never thought of music as a competition or anything. We like to put our shit out and if people like it, they like it – and awesome.”

At the time of this interview, the band was writing material for the follow-up to last year's The Human Romance. As for whether the next album could finally afford them their due, Henry again doesn't seem too concerned. “We've had a lot of success in that we've been able to do this for so long, tour the world and play music to everybody. I consider that pretty successful. The next record… If it jumps us up there, so be it. If not, whatever. We're happy doing what we do.”

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When pressed for details about their next offering, he's pleased to divulge. “I think it's going to be along the same lines [as their previous album]; it's going to have the mix of everything. It's going to have some melodic, epic-sounding stuff, some real pissed, aggressive-sounding stuff. These guys are really going to be stepping it up with the technical stuff too; there's going to be some crazy shit going on with the next record. I don't even really understand some of it,” he laughs. “It's crazy, but it's awesome.”

Before that's lain down on tape though, Darkest Hour will return to Australia alongside metal heavyweights DevilDriver and death metallers Six Feet Under. The diverse bill reminds the vocalist of the band's formative years, where they would jump on almost any show possible.

“We like to play with all kinds of metal bands, pretty much. In the early days we would tour with anyone; hardcore bands, punk bands, metal bands. So that's always been something we've been really into, having a diverse crowd. We're all personally fans of lots of different kinds of music, so we like playing with any kind of band. Maybe not like John Mayer or something,” he chuckles. “Pretty much anything heavy, we're down.”