Darkest Hour interview with John Henry and Mike Schleibaum
Every genre of music has its artists who create fantastic music but somehow always manage to fly beneath the radar of all but the savviest of fans. In the world of extreme metal, and in particular, melodic death metal, Washington D.C. based Darkest Hour is just such a band. The band was founded in 1995 by vocalist John Henry and guitarist Mike Schleibaum who recently sat down with Metalholic and AXS Entertainment on Day 4 of the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival to discuss the band’s eponymous eighth studio effort, due out in August.
Darkest Hour spent the final few years of the last century refining the band’s sound before releasing its debut album, The Mark of the Judas to open the millennium. The band’s record label soon went defunct leaving the band adrift and without promotion. Victory Records liked what they heard and inked the band for its 2001 sophomore release, So Sedated, So Secure.
Henry and Schleibaum spent the next decade releasing a string of albums which increased in fan reception and critical acclaim; the last four of which made it into the top 3 on the US Heatseekers Charts (including twice at #1), and landed in the top 25 of the US Independent Charts.
Guitarist Mike Carrigan joined the band in 2008, and has appeared on the quintet’s last three albums. Bassist Aaron Deal and drummer Travis Orbin make their debut on the new self-titled record, the band’s first for Sumerian Records. When asked about the new record from their perspective, Mike Schleibaum is quick to point out, “Everyone has their own tale to tell.”
“It’s got something for everybody” offers John Henry. “It definitely has a lot of our classic sound, but a lot of different stuff going on.”
“The thing is,” shares Schleibaum, “a lot of people don’t know who we are. There’s an entire generation of people who love the band, but the younger people don’t know the band. Darkest Hour is a band that transcends each generation; each new album connects with somebody new. I would say [the album] is kind of a different thing, but what’s a different thing if you’ve never heard the band? So what we like to say it, it has something for everybody. It’s not just a thrash metal record. It’s a heavy metal record. My man can sing (refers to Henry), but he can scream. But it’s all crazy. It’s all over the place.”
Darkest Hour took more time to work on the self-titled album than previous efforts: “It made a big difference, I think,” stated Henry. “We just spent like two years making this thing.”
“I think the reflection helped a lot, but the writing–there’s some spontaneity to it. But we’ve been through the grinder. we had to do some soul-searching. It’s like, why do you want to hear a Darkest Hour album after eight albums? After a line-up change? What do you want to hear? So when you go through this new music, if you don’t know the band, you’re lucky. you just get to enjoy it. But if you do love the band, sometimes you have to grapple with, can it sound like this? Does it sound like this? All in the first song.”
You can check out the full interview with the Darkest Hour guys below, check out the new track “Wasteland”, and pick up the new record, August 5th on Sumerian records.