WORDS/PHOTOGRAPHY BY: RAVEN BENWAIT
Melodic Death Metal, 20 years, 11 albums, 5 musicians, 1 band. Darkest Hour came to Toronto on July 27, 2015 to celebrate their 20th anniversary tour, playing their album Undoing Ruin in it’s entirely. The tour took place in Europe, the United States and Canada. Toronto was the eleventh and only Canadian date of the 20th anniversary tour. The Hard Luck stage consisted of openers, Milkroom, Partycat, Ion Dissonance and ofcourse headliners, Darkest Hour.
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see Milkroom and Partycat, but I’ve definitely got some good things to say about Partycat’s merch. “F**k YOLO, I am a f**king Partycat and I got 9 lives!” – Definitely creative.
Deathcore band Ion Dissonance was the last act before the headliners. Hailing from Montreal, the four piece band brought their heavy music style to the Toronto stage. Ion Dissonance had many people watching, but there were a few actually head-banging and getting a feel for the music. The ones that were into it were definitely enjoying their music and formed a few sweet mosh-pits, while screaming lyrics. I’ve got to give a hand to Kevin McCaughey for keeping the energy levels up despite being an opening band, as he kept the crowd going with his unique hardcore vocals. McCaughey also got some members of the crowd to sing lyrics as he pointed the microphone at them. It was a pleasure to photograph his stage presence.
The early 2002 band played songs from their albums Cursed, Minus the Herd, Breathing Is Irrelevant and Solace. I am a fan of the guitar playing from Cursed – very creative, lots of breakdowns, quick tempos and rhythmically diverse. Prior to this album, the band was on hiatus and came up with this creative masterpiece in August 2010. For those looking for more death metal to explore, Ion Dissonance is a band to check out.
Next to hit the Hard Luck stage was Darkest Hour. I’d say about 80 percent of the crowd was there for these guys and began to gather around the stage. Those that were right infront of the stage were trapped in and had nowhere to go because the floor was completely packed.
Darkest Hour walked onto the stage and began playing With a Thousand Words to Say But One, which the fans were screaming with emotion, along with vocalist John Henry. They played the entire 11-song album, Undoing Ruin, their fourth full-length studio album, released on June 28, 2005. Convalescence is one that all the older fans remember and sang, along with Sound the Surrender, their melodic instrumental of Ethos, another heavy one called Paradise, and their first time playing Tranquil live in Toronto.
After the completion of Undoing Ruin, Darkest Hour began to exit the stage, but there was no way they were done yet! They came back onto the stage, harder than before and played a variety of songs from different albums. Rapture in Exile, from their recent self-titled album, Savor the Kill from The Human Romance, For the Soul of the Saviour from The Mark of the Judas, Devolution of Flesh from The Eternal Return, closing with The Sadist Nation from Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation.
I am not one to fan girl, but I’ll say, out of all the times I have seen them here in Toronto, this was their greatest show, especially when John Henry told the crowd “Toronto holds a special place in our hearts,” because Toronto was one of the first cities they played in as a band. It is great to see how the fan base of Darkest Hour has grown since they first became a band in 1995, especially during this night, as they sang along the lyrics, formed circle pits and were head-banging along with the band. The crowd was united as one, and it was definitely a proud and memorable experience for long time Darkest Hour fans.
As a frequent concert attendee, I find that choice in venue is important when it comes to a concert experience. For a metal band like Darkest Hour, Hard Luck Bar is a great space for the crowd to mosh, enjoy the heavy metal sound and interact with the band with the low stage. Venue plays a big role when it comes to enjoying a show, and I think for this particular show, Hard Luck Bar was a perfect choice.