Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Review: Hawthorne Heights - Hope

 The second part in a trilogy of EPs conveying basic human emotions I s'pose, Ohio screamo champs Hawthorne Heights come charging back with Hope a more optimistic prospect than August's Hate. And in the eight months that have lasted since the release of Hate it seems like there has been some changes all around. For one, since then I've realised that "screamo" is a legitimate term to describe a style of music and not just a term used by ignorant types that believe all metallic music is music with scream vocals that could be used for self-harm.

 The other dramatic change that has taken place between EP's is the massive shift in emotional tone the band has to offer. While Hate was filled with songs of a kind of aggression that let the EP live up to it's name effortlessly, Hope sees the band tread upon more positive ground for the most part, which often has differing results.

 While the typical notion of combining influences from pop punk and hardcore bands and influences from alt rock in the vein of that which Thrice have perfected remains in Hawthorne Heights sound but the main delivery differs across the set of eight songs which has the ability to strengthen and weaken the band's performance.

 It's ironic in many ways that the strongest moments of the EP are the less positive moments, as the tone of desperation and emotional despair from frontman JT Woodruff on New Winter and the mellow swing of Nowhere Fast show the greatest levels of well-thought songwriting and remain the most gripping.

 On the flip-side, the more positive moments pale in comparison. Whilst the hardcore breakdowns on Running In (Niki Am) and Vandemonium have a infectious level of excitement riding across them, they just don't reach the kind of intensity and overwhelming impact that an EP titled after a positive emotion ought to and ultimately end up sounding more like a watered-down Taking Back Sunday.

 Overall, Hope is a solid effort from Hawthorne Heights once again and serves as an effective follow-up to Hate to reveal a more positive outlook, therefore showing the band's ability to cover a wide emotional spectrum in all that they do. But in can get a bit lackluster in places and with all honest attempts to bring their own touch to their musical sound, Hawthorne Heights do have an EP filled with screamo standards. Yep, that's right. The musical term that I refused to accept as a legitimate genre a year ago has a blueprint sound.

Hawthorne Heights' Hope is out now via Cardboard Empire. The band will tour the UK from September-October with Kyoto Drive, Maker, Burn the Fleet and Lower Lands

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