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Darkest Hour 

With Fear Before the March of Flames and Between the Buried and Me. Friday, December 10, at the Odeon.

The folks at Victory Records aren't turning their backs on the thick-necked hardcore lunks who made them, but they are extending a hand to the more metallic bands currently ruling mosh pits nationwide, and Darkest Hour -- like Atreyu -- offers a glimpse into the label's future.

Darkest Hour's latest album, Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation, shares most of the best qualities of Atreyu's The Curse. Arena-ready riffage? Check. Vomit-flecked vocals? Check. Shredding guitar solos? Check. Thrashing rhythms? Check, with one caveat (see below). But did Atreyu have the balls to end its album with a 13-minute instrumental featuring a piano interlude between guitar solos? No, it didn't. Advantage: Darkest Hour.

Hidden Hands pays explicit tribute to Swedish metal. Not only was it recorded at the infamous Studio Fredman in Gothenburg; it features guest appearances by lots of Scandinavian neothrashers, including the Haunted's Anders Björler and the Crown's Tomas Lindberg. Live, of course, the members of Darkest Hour will have to stand on their own 10 feet as they attempt to crush the teenagers sure to pack the Odeon. This won't be a problem -- and audience members should be able to hear the drums, unlike those rocking out at home with the CD.

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