1. The Sadist Nation
2. Pay Phones and Pills
4. Marching to the Killing Rhythm
5. The Misinformation Age
6. Seven Day Lie
7. Accessible Losses
8. The Patriot Virus
9. Veritas, Aequitas
2003 Victory Records
Have you ever felt so spoiled that you actually feel bad that all this good has happened to you all at once Maybe not so much bad, but just that something is entirely wrong and you know deep down inside that sooner rather than later, the shit is going to hit the fan. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I truly feel for Darkest Hour, I really do. I have found it in my cold black heart to find some sympathy for these melodic metal masters.
You are probably wondering why I need to sympathize for this band when they have crafted one of the best melodic metal albums in a goddamn while. Well, this album is actually so good I feel that they have spoiled the music world with a gem that sparkles almost as much as it kills me to know that the guys could just never outperform themselves on future releases. Seriously though, they recorded at legendary Studio Fredman (Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, Arch Enemy etc) in Sweden, where they met up with their friends, none other than Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates/Great Deceiver), Peter Wichers (Soilwork), Anders Bjorler (The Haunted) and Marcus Suneson (The Crown), to help with this effort.
Fredrick Nordstrom is a god. I know that's blatant, but I will be damned if he hasn't produced some of the most mesmerizing recordings I have ever heard. To be completely honest, I was never a Darkest Hour fan until now. Maybe it's just that the recording is so good that it makes the songs sound better than they truly are Or maybe just maybe this band has finally reached their pinnacle and has written a stellar album, making them sound and feel like the Swedish metal scene they have worshipped since "Mark of the Judas" At any rate, most of the people reading this and/or buying "Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation" on its imminent releasing date are simply not ready for what is in store for them this time around.
Nine blistering tracks of ferocious Swedish-inspired mayhem with lyrics dealing with such aspects as; everyday living and dealings that any hardcore kid could relate, to a song about the whole band being locked up by the Feds in Oklahoma on a song by the same name. I personally enjoy the lyrical view on "The Patriot Virus," which deals with the ever popular issue of blind patriotism that has infected just about every village idiot these days, where as "The Sadist Nation" is my favorite song from a musical standpoint. There's really nothing more to say other than the fact that this album rips from start to finish, although I would skip over the last 13-minute epic instrumental after hearing it. It gets kind of old. A couple of the guest guitarists lent their solo talents this track, so it's worthy of a listen or two.
The artwork on "Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation" sucks, which is no surprise if you are familiar with any of their former records. It's too bad too, without good design this album falls into a category in which it doesn't deserve to be placed into by any means, just another hardcore record. Seriously though it looks like a hardcore record, not a metal record. Perhaps, the band/label will rethink the art choices next time around. I suspect they'll will notice a huge turnaround in buyers too.
Bottom Line:This is the album of all albums for Darkest Hour, and US melodic metal for that matter. This is the best that a US band has ever been at this style and I don't expect it to get much better. It figures that to conquer the genre that was started in Sweden, we had to go over to Sweden to do it right. Don't jump to conclusions just yet though. This is not your ordinary Swede record. There are just enough traces of hardcore to lure any diehard hardcore/metal fan into Darkest Hour's tight grasp. If you are a fan of Beyond the Sixth Seal's "Earth and Sphere," buy this record immediately. "Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation" is your new best friend and will be for a long-long time. I mean, I would still rather listen to Swedish born and raised melodic metal, but this is a job well done and I actually got up out of my chair and gave my CD player a standing ovation after the first journey through this record. If that's not saying enough about "Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation," I don't what is. Darkest Hour has proved to the world that you don't need to be Swedish to write a great melodic metal record.