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by Brian Everstine and Micheal Bowen & r & & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.454744986 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Darkest Hour & lt;/a & Undoing Ruin ****

Ah, Victory Records -- the label that puts too much importance on everything they do. Recently, they hyped Darkest Hour's Undoing Ruin as "The Album of the Decade," comparing it to Metallica's Ride the Lightning and At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul. While the hype was excessive, Undoing Ruin is a still brilliant album that shines a light on the genre and deserves to be noted as a top metal release this year.

The last two Victory releases by Darkest Hour, while great, have given the band a reputation of an At the Gates or Dark Tranquility rip-off. Undoing Ruin still has the Euro thrash that brought Darkest Hour their notoriety; however, they seamlessly blend it with Washington, D.C., hardcore, a perfect amount of melody and excellent guitar solos, which are a Darkest Hour first.

With Undoing Ruin, forget everything Victory says. It is definitely not "The Album of the Decade," but as one of the best recent metal releases, it deserves to be heard.

& lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.454744984 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & James MacMillan & lt;/a & Symphony No. 3, "Silence" ****

James MacMillan borrowed the title of a Japanese novel for his third symphony, which premiered in Tokyo in 2003. As a composer, he knows that musical silence creates suspense; as a Christian, he wonders how God can remain silent in the face of human suffering. For 38 minutes of this Chandos premiere recording, he oscillates between contemplative quiet and cacophonous questioning. Strings get all Psycho freaky, a marimba soothes; horn crescendos alternate with prolonged, soundless gaps; cellos undulate in a weird melodic/non-melodic mix before flutes send forth shoots of optimism from out of a droning gloom.

For "The Confession of Isobel Gowdie," MacMillan wraps string elegies around a discordant middle section. As a liberal Roman Catholic and a Scot, MacMillan is angry about how Protestant witch hunters of the 16th and 17th centuries tortured and killed women like Gowdie. After the horns, bells and timpani of the "trial, torture and mass hysteria," MacMillan repeatedly interrupts the final lament of the violins with horn attacks: The witch hunters live on among us.
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