For me, Hopesfall existed in a weird state of being; while some bands like Thrice used screaming as an opportunity to crescendo or escalade a moment in the song above their normal singing, Hopesfall inverted this state by interjecting beautiful melodic vocals at the exact point in the furious screaming that can make a man's grundle tingle. Because Jay, the screamer, decided he "really wanted to sing on the new album," sort of ruined my pre-established love of the band and also my first listen of the CD. I sat there thinking"why?" especially in the light of the fact that Hopesfall had named their CD A Types
and described the album as one in which "their writing seemed to leap to a new complexity this time around" (Press Packet). Most bands, when asserting that they have thrust forward in the realm of writing and complexity, are likening themselves to the uber-technicality of a Dillinger Escape Plan or Pysopus, but no, Hopesfall decided their path would fall closer to a Further Seems Forever with testicles. Is this bad? Fuc
k no. I didn't believe it for a while myself but once I had dropped my disappointment with the style change I started to notice the layers and beauties of this album.
Firstly, the song structure can be unreal. Hopesfall had always written some songs with interesting time signatures or asymmetric structures, but this new CD has as amazing system of varying mode. The lyrics are written in the insert as mere poems because, while their quality is pretty standard fare, their placement within the songs seems immaculate. Take the single "Icarus," for example. On it, there are repeated verses and choruses but they are repeated fractionally and lines and stanzas are split to make room for other interludes, which fragment the song into many subsections that glimmer on their own like facets on a diamond, but of course, the real beauty lies in the whole glowing diamond. The songs have an amazing cohesion even in the midst of those Hopesfall tempo shifts and time signature changes. "Owl" serves as the best example of this by mixing 7/8 and 8/8 seamlessly throughout the song. The musicianship is as tight and inventive as the songs themselves, leaving well-written music in the wake of some interesting and unexpected convergences. The only region that this CD makes concessions to the aforementioned structural genius is on the notably simpler songs like "It Happens" and "Breathe from Coma."
Secondly, Jay is a sick singer. If he weren't, this CD would be ruined. The vocal tone is really attractive unlike his trebly, reverb-laden droning on The Satellite Years
. Jay's voice has a lot of character and reminds me of Dustin Kensrue's from Thrice, mostly because of its ability to
move from singing to screaming smoothly as well as how impassioned it is, even at its weakest moments. Also, the melodic lines he sings are varied and interesting. I find many singers have great voices but trash them on boring and trite or unattractive melodies. Some terrible singers like the ever pubescent Chris Carraba, admittedly sings some cool melodies. If you don't believe me listen to "Monechetti" from when he was still in Further Seems Forever. Jay single handedly elevates even the more trite songs like "It Happens" and "Breathe from Coma" that I mentioned earlier with his sensational vocal performances.
Thirdly, the tones in general on this CD are pretty ill. This CD is well produced without being overproduced, which is something many bands lose sight of when they get a larger budget and fancier tools. My favorite example of tonal excellence is on the song "The Ones," in which the sort of airy delayed guitar from the verses is extended into the outro with this soaring whistling. It's cool (and nerdy I know) to be able to get excited about the different effects a band has managed to use in diversifying their CD. I really appreciate that Hopesfall spent a month in the studio with something like 14-hour workdays to make this album happen with such subtle precision.
I think I've praised this CD a bit too much though. There are some glaring flaws, like the mediocre lyrics I mentioned earlier, and also, this hardly is Hopesfall anymore. They have had many member changes and have completely changed their style and genre (which I had never and can still not really discern without doing great injustices to the music). I find this to be acceptable as the end result is something I find palatable and in fact exceptional, but I'm sure many kids who refuse to listen to anything that could be considered poppy, will post a lot on message boards saying, "hopesfall r a bunch of fuking phags." If you have enough grey matter to decipher what I have found within this awesome CD and probably more, then check out this CD. Otherwise, listen to some generic clusterfuck like Atreyu and leave Hopesfall alone.
Standout tracks: Icarus, The Ones, Matchmaker's Haven, Owl