War is a truly dark thing. Some of music's most powerful songs have meanings that revolve around war, and even today music helps guide us through moments of struggle. It's not very often that you see some of the metal subgenres discussing it, though. Phinehas bring a unique story to post-hardcore in Dark Flag, their latest record which calls back to some of the world's worst wars.
There's a lot of different commentary going on in Dark Flag. It begins on title track 'Dark Flag,' kicking things off on a more general note. Dark Flag itself isn't an album specifically about war, but it's about human life and the value of it. The great guitar work of the opening track (though the rhythm does feel a bit empty) pairs with the big choruses, bringing the record to an urgent and captivating start. The same formula is what much of the rest of the album revolves around, like 'Meaningless Names,' which chants of how war is impersonal above the powerful instrumentals.
A lot of Dark Flag is average at best in terms of sonic delivery (it follows all the tropes of your typical post-hardcore), so all of its quality really comes from its messages. There are some moments like 'A War That Never Ends' that try something different, this song being a quieter one that stands out as a cry rather than a damning. Some songs like 'The 38th Parallel' (referencing the divide between South Korea and North Korea) and 'Burning Bright' are more like statements than anything else (both hone in on the oppression in North Korea), while others focus in on being caught up in the battle yourself. Phinehas covers it all.
It's not often you hear a genre step out of its comfort zone, and it usually pays off. Phinehas bring a unique story to post-hardcore in Dark Flag, using the context of war to bring to light that value of human life. It's music like this that makes us appreciate what we have. That's something worth keeping around.
Favorite Track: Know Death; Know Forever
Least Favorite Track: Dark Flag
Rating: 71 / 100
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