Sound — 8
This is the Darkest Hour fans have been waiting to here. If you were to take their greatest moments from their previous records, you would get The Eternal Return (the album title is a reference to them returning to their roots). And it really does sound like what you would get if you were to make an album of their 5 previous releases. The guitars are as tight as ever (although Kris Norris was replaced by Mike Carriga), the rhythm section keeps up the fast pace, and the vocals sound just as good as they've ever been. They do 'recycle' their sound every now and then (the harmony solo in "A Distorted Utopia" sounds similar to the one in "Fire in the Skies" and "Into the Grey" has a similar, slow intro like "Tunguska" had). The first half of the album has some great moments like "No God" and "The Tides" (with a sweet, minute-long solo in the middle). But to me, the album's second half is without a doubt the best part. Starting with "Blessed Infection" (which might remind you of their Mark of the Judas record) and ending heavily with "Into the Grey", the second half doesn't let up one bit. Darkest Hour have come into their own and are here to stay.
Lyrics — 8
John Henry's voice has always been a driving force for Darkest Hour, and he probably figures "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Still growling about the decay of man and the world going to hell, he sounds just as good as he ever had. But if you're looking for more melodic singing like Deliver Us had, you won't be too happy with this record; Darkest Hour decided to take out the soft stuff, and go all out on this one. And that's what a lot of 'hardcore' fans probably wanted. It doesn't make much of a difference to me, just as long as they don't sing about emo stuff (like the new KSE) and keep the music heavy with sweeping solos.
Overall Impression — 8
At first, I thought it was a not-so-good Undiong Ruin/Hidden Hands, but that went away after a few more close listens. "No God", "Blessed Infection", "Black Sun", and "Into the Grey" are my favorites, but there's something for just about everybody on here (after all, it IS the best Darkest hour has to offer). Personally, this is up there in my top DH albums (with Hidden Hands and Deliver Us) and it won't disappoint many fans. My only issue with this is that there are no catchy songs (probably since the melodic singing went away) and that the CD is only 34 minutes long. But I was so pleased upon hearing this that I'm going to buy it the first chance I get. Highly recommended for all DH fans and any fan of metal with great guitar work. A solid release from a consistent metal band.