Metal!

Darkest Hour Delivers Melodic Death Metal to Marquis

Darkest Hour still lives for heavy metal.
Darkest Hour still lives for heavy metal. Courtesy Darkest Hour
Darkest Hour guitarist Mike Schleibaum can’t believe it’s been nearly thirty years since he started the band with his buddies while a high-schooler in his home state of Virginia.

“I was just saying the other day that pretty soon I’ll be able to say I’ve been doing this for thirty years. Thirty fucking years, I’ll be able to shout at people,” he says.

Officially formed in 1995, D.C.’s Darkest Hour play melodic metal, which exploded in the early 2000s alongside bands like Unearth and Killswitch Engage. This new brand of melodic death metal captured the attention of the youth, as bands were able to build a strong following without much support from the mainstream or internet. Aptly dubbed the "new wave of American metal," one of Darkest Hour’s finest moments and a touchstone for a lot of fans was 2007’s Deliver Us, an album that epitomizes the mixture of melodies, hooks and growls that became synonymous with the subgenre.

“It kind of thrust itself as the gateway drug to Darkest Hour. It kind of has a little bit of everything. It’s a little heavy, a little melodic, a little shreddy. Just enough to pull you in, then you can check out the different flavors we have over the ten albums,” Schleibaum explains of the fifteen-year-old record that includes fan favorites like “DEMON(S),” “Doomsayer (The Beginning of the End)” and “A Paradox With Flies – The Light.”

Darkest Hour is playing Deliver Us in its entirety as part of a proper anniversary tour, which stops in Denver on Tuesday, July 5, at the Marquis Theater. Toxic Holocaust and Necropanther are providing support.

“It just feels like a good way to close the chapter on that and especially reconnect with everybody that loves Darkest Hour and remind them, like, ‘Hey, we’re a band. We can still play. We still love this,’” Schleibaum says of the anniversary run. “We’re just trying to touch base with everybody and remind them that we still live for heavy metal and we’re coming back.”

While a handful of Deliver Us songs have been mainstays on Darkest Hour’s setlist for over a decade, the band has enjoyed revisiting some of the album’s deeper cuts that never had their chance in the spotlight.

“We do play a bunch of songs off of Deliver Us regularly. They’re well-known Darkest Hour songs. That’s why this is a great album to play. But there are about seven of the twelve songs that are lesser known to us...we don’t play them all the time. There are a few that we barely played — even back in the day, we only played them once or twice,” Schleibaum explains. “Learning them all has been kind of fun, because it sort of takes the pressure off what is the best possible set can we give somebody. When we got into rehearsal, because everybody knew everything, it wasn’t until we ran through the whole set a few times that you could really hear us play each song and feel like the mood changes. … You feel all those live. Everybody started to have a huge smile on their face.”

Nostalgia aside, since the pandemic began, Darkest Hour’s Patreon account has been the go-to source for fans, as the band continues to focus on offering exclusive content and one-of-a-kind items. As Schleibaum explains, after working with eleven different album labels over the past 27 years, Darkest Hour is more than capable of putting out a record independently. For example, 2017’s Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora was successfully funded through an Indiegogo campaign before the band sold the rights to Southern Lord Records.

“We’re going to put this out ourselves unless something comes from the universe that’s better, and we don’t care,” Schleibaum says of Darkest Hour’s next album. “We have all the tools and infrastructure in place to present to you a Darkest Hour record released and promoted the same way as the labels do.”

He admits that the band isn’t necessarily chasing fame and fortune at this point, but wants to make and release music on its own terms more than anything.

“We’re big boys. We’re all grown up, and we’re ready to take responsibilities for this record and getting it to people. I think there’s something special about releasing music in a way that we did when we did our first record,” Schleibaum says, adding that there’s no official release date for the new album yet, but it will most likely be out at the beginning of next year. "When you buy it, you know that that money is going to go to putting guitar strings on a guitar or gas in the van. It’s kind of a beautiful synergy.”

Darkest Hour,  7 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street. Tickets are $24.
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