Picks: Darkest Hour, Crusades, Western Addiction

If you’re into thrash metal then you won’t have failed to notice that one of its very best modern representatives, Havok, put out a new record last week. It’s really good. Thing is, it’s a Havok album. It’s probably not better than the ones that came before it, but it’s better than most. Beyond that, there’s not that much to say. So we’ve picked three other albums instead, just to keep you on your toes.

Darkest Hour
Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora
Southern Lord Records
[Spotify]

Well, Darkest Hour have nailed this one. The Washington D.C. veterans have just released their ninth album, Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora, and it’s sodding terrific. The sound is difficult to place, swerving from the full-blown metalcore of the opening song to the more mellow approach of ‘Widowed’. In between, Darkest Hour are really in their groove. The melodic death metal riffing is right out of the top drawer, the songwriting ability and experience clear for all to hear. Deft musicality is married to John Henry’s venomous vocal style throughout, making for an accomplished and varied record that stacks up against anything released this year so far.

Crusades
This Is A Sickness And Sickness Will End
Self-released
[Spotify]

This Is A Sickness And Sickness Will End is the third thoroughly named full-length album from Ottawa’s Crusades, a quartet with far more strings to their collective bow than the single ‘punk’ tag that adorns this release on Bandcamp. To me, it’s a hard rock concept album with a very definite punk heart underneath layer upon layer of clever, expansive instrumentation. And yet much of it has a cloying intensity to its atmosphere, ‘1940 (Whirr And Chime)’ being a case in point. As much as we usually don’t go in for the “for fans of…” approach to recommendations, we will say this: if you dig the Black Peaks album from last year, these 32 minutes will pass by in a flash.

Western Addiction
Tremulous
Fat Wreck Chords
[Spotify]

Sneaking into the vacant spot created by Havok’s total reliability this week are Western Addiction, the Fat Wreck-connected punk collective from San Francisco. Their second full album is Tremulous and it blends that familiar Fat Wreck bounce with a rumbling California snarl and a cracking ear for a hook. Although there’s nothing here that’s new, there’s a subtle range within a core sound. Opener ‘Clatter And Hiss’ is a big ol’ good-time rock tune, ‘Honeycreeper’ more pensive and poisonous. ‘Humming Bars Of White Light’ packs a couple of classic rock twists that just fit perfectly, and closing track ‘Your Life Is Precious’ expands unapologetically on that theme before emerging as a mid-paced stomper fully four minutes in.

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