Review Summary: With some catchy riffs, more than decent breakdowns and enough sub drops to make your bowels move, HVH release a very promising but flawed ep to the masses in the hope to garner some new attention.
Straight from Melbourne HVH are a 6 piece post-hardcore/metalcore/ambient genre-bending band that rose from the foundations set by the members previous band(beyond mine) . Their level of popularity has grown rather quickly and in a widespread fashion enabling them to be perceived as one of the better 'hardcore' bands in the Australian scene.
The EP kicks off with a jazzy electronic piano number, aptly titled 'Introduction' which goes nowhere but works just fine as a filler track, then bursts forth into the title track 'Forfeiture'. While it has its moments, this track never ceases to bore. It loses energy rather prematurely and the cleanly sung melodic lines are hardly anything to write home about.
Here is where i start my main gripe with this EP, this song is a prime example of the cluttered nature of the songwriting throughout the EP, the songwriting is patchy and the constituent parts of the songs lack cohesion. 'Forfeiture' in particular sounds like it was hastily stuck together with duct tape. The first 50 seconds of the song work very well but the aforementioned clean section along with the trashy and rather silly (although slightly catchy) electronic trigger over the last minute really drives home the weaknesses. It could very well have worked as a more progressive song with its length doubled, allowing more time for each of the different sections to truly develop, but alas, we're given 3:20 of 'what could have been'.
The real EP seems to begin at the third track 'Comforting our thoughts in a continuous blue'. This song follows a similar formula used for 'Forfeiture' but the execution of the song and the level of songwriting is better, with the electronic trigger working in the songs favor. In this case the trigger serves to break up the intro and outro which are fundamentally the same breakdown section with varied vocal deliveries.
The next track 'Seeing clearly through water' would work quite well as the single off the EP, it sits nicely in the scope of bands such as saosin and secret & whisper. The main draw card being its highly hook filled chorus (especially the last 'half time' chorus) that manages to stick out nicely as well as some interesting guitar work and some subtle but rather fitting work by the keyboardist. This leads into the next keys based filler track 'Colour space' which servers as nothing more than a warm up for the best track on the EP.
'The only virtue' (quite a fitting title with regards to the EP) is the best work on this EP, the song carries just enough technicality to break HVH free of the lower spectrum of 'emocore' bands. While it still reeks of breakdowns, in this instance they actually work in the songs favor. Most of the aforementioned breakdowns are lined with some subtle but rather 'magical' synth work. The middle section from about 1:15 is one of the most memorable breakdowns ive heard in a while, with some well executed guitar riffs, a touch of dissonance, a slightly angular electronic pause before a very fitting chorus and some mad sing-alongs. HVH start to live up to their potential in this song.
The EP ends with a return to form in the shape of 'Furious George'. Much like the of the EP, the song has its moments at best, but lacks any sort of proper cohesion in the songwriting department. This leaves the listener wondering if they have simply been listening to a band jamming out some sweet riffs and ideas for the last half hour. The song recycles many of the same ideas found in the other tracks. Very similar breakdowns, similar riffs, all in all, nothing dramatically new is brought to the table with the saving grace being none other than the electronic trigger half way through the song. Deja vu? With a melody and tone plucked straight from the 80's this section proves to be the most memorable part of the song and will have you tapping your feet. But like usual, it adds nothing to the song apart from a fun albeit rather silly digress.
HVH have shown that they are capable of writing some good music with the EP falling somewhere between dance gavin dance and amity affliction in terms of technicality, but with this collection of riffs and odd bits they have presented nothing more than a loose representation of their skills and maturity as songwriters. Similar to many other bands playing this style of hardcore, its simply feels like all the songs have been 'duct taped' together in an attempt to palm them off as 'experimental', with little to no real attention paid to how the various parts should/could fit together. This EP screams 'sceneXcore' but manages to rise above most other releases in a similar vein, its a good start to what looks set to be a long and promising future ahead for HVH. They simply need to break free of the cliches of the genre and really let their musicianship shine through.