Darkest Hour. Venom Prison. The Underworld. It would be hard to put together a mix of words that introduce to us quite the same mix of excitement, happiness and slight sense of terror as these.
Opening act Lunatic Hooker were, to put it nicely, A Bit Disappointing. Though their hard-and-fast brand of grindcore-meets-death metal falling in line somewhere between Napalm Death and The Black Dahlia Murder was a good fit for this bill, their sound problems combined with the fact that many of their songs sounded pretty much exactly the same, meant that the very sparse crowd who had turned up early to see them were left somewhat nonplussed. It was nigh-on impossible to make out a word George or Duncan (vocals and bass/vocals) were saying, although the points where the band locked in together and just riffed on one groove were enjoyable to an extent.
Then, Venom Prison happened. When it was announced that Venom Prison would be accompanying Darkest Hour for this show, we made this face:
Preferring not to talk to the audience except to thank them briefly before they left the stage, Venom Prison blasted through their set giving the audience hardly a chance to breathe. The band were firing on all cylinders, and even though they hardly moved around on the stage at all, the sheer power that comes from their music drove much of the crowd into a frenzy. Vocalist Larissa Stupar is an excellent frontwoman, and even though the sound was still a little shoddy it could do nothing to dampen the rawness of her deep growls.
Darkest Hour have always felt like a band who should be much bigger than they are. When their latest album Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora was released to much critical acclaim, we very much hoped that more people would stand up and pay attention. Unfortunately when the Washington heavyweights came on stage and launched into album opener ‘Knife In The Safe Room‘ it was to an Underworld that was very noticeably far from full.
Still, this didn’t seem to bother them that much. Though the sound was still annoyingly muddy, songs like ‘Doomsayer‘ and ‘The Sadist Nation‘ as well as new bangers like ‘Timeless Numbers‘ will always sound great, and the fact the crowd went wild for every song that Darkest Hour put out was testament to this.
Here, though, the major gripe of the night must be addressed. Darkest Hour played a 50 minute set. 50 minutes. For a band that have been around for around twenty years now, that have released nine studio albums, and who have probably influenced the two bands that were on before them, 50 minutes is an incredibly short time to play. It’s almost insulting that their career has now been reduced to a set that’s under an hour at their own headline show.
Darkest Hour are a legendary band, a group that is still putting out great music, and even though they put on a truly excellent show (especially considering that God Forbid guitarist Doc Coyle was standing in on guitars) we couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed that such a cornerstone of heavy metal was presented with a 50 minute set to a 2/3 full Underworld when they came to our country.