I've always had a soft spot for Hawthorne Heights. In
2006, while on some downtime at a conference in Florida and desperate
for something non-Disney to do I discovered Hawthorne Heights
and Silverstein were playing the House of Blues. I was
unfamiliar with both bands but a quick check of their MySpace
pages (remember MySpace?) revealed at least a passing relation
to the hardcore that I've always held so dear. Plus, at $12, the
show was a bargain, right? A $25 cab ride (each way) later and
I walked away from one of the standout show nights of my 25+ years
Five years later (more than a lifetime for many bands) I find
myself with a digital download of HOPE, the second in a
trilogy of EPs that the band are self-releasing on their own Cardboard
Empire imprint. The band is none the worse for wear after choosing
to forge its own path and taking the DIY route-recording and releasing
the EPs entirely on their own.
By and large, the HOPE's 8 tracks find Hawthorne Heights in classic
form - using buzz-saw guitars and screamo backing vocals to fray
the edges of their pop-punk sensibilities. Most importantly, HOPE
finds the band taking a step to the left, back towards an edgier
sound and away from the poppier hooks of some of their more recent
releases. Their sound still resembles the roadkill that would
result from a four-car pile-up between Blink 182, SUM
41, Refused, and At The Drive-In.
HOPE heats up with each track and ends with one of the
strongest closing triptychs of songs of recent memory. Title track
"Hope", "Vandemonium", and "Chemicals"
are the standout tracks and find the band at its edgiest. Gang-vocal
choruses and backing screams abound, highlighting the very best
that Hawthorne Heights have to offer. Skip the self-indulgent,
unnecessarily earnest opener, "There Was A Kid (Part 2),"
in favor of these deeper cuts.
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