Although Ozzfest is usually nothing but a slop bucket of shitty nü-metal, someone in Ozzy's empire was on the ball this year when he tapped Washington, D.C.'s Darkest Hour. The brutal fivesome brought a much-needed injection of legitimacy and bile-spewing hysteria to the fest; those qualities were honed by years of small tours and basement shows around the country. The group released its stunning debut, The Mark of Judas, in 2000, and its followup, So Sedated, So Secure, was by far the most convincing At the Gates ripoff ever attempted. But it was last year's skull-splitting Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation that finally saw Darkest Hour carve its own towering monument to the power of metal. Picture an Iron Chef competition between Damnation A.D. and Entombed, with the secret ingredient being the gutted remains of Pg. 99 -- then bake the whole thing in a casserole and gulp it down. That sludge left in your intestines ten years later? Hidden Hands. When it comes to the melding of hardcore spleen and metal bloodletting, nothing beats Darkest Hour's sick recipe.