Review Summary: Somewhere on the radio can you hear me? Can you heal me? Cause I’m screaming…
Trust Hurt to start Vol. II
exactly where its predecessor left off. That’s not just a figure of speech--- the closing moments of “House Carpenter” saw lead vocalist J. Loren ranting and raving over a violent riff from guitarist Paul Spatola and faded into the sound of falling rain. The band wastes no time in recreating the epic scene, beginning their second major-label release with the same riff, albeit acoustic and inverted, and the same rain (presumably, it’s difficult to tell with rain) providing a steady beat in the background. Vol. II
is an obvious continuation of Volume 1
, both musically and conceptually--- although concept may be the wrong word, according to resident say-it-like-it-is man Loren, who states “my life is not a f***ing concept.” Thank you for the input, J.
Call it what you will, but there is a definite theme tying the two Volumes
together, and it’s not just in the titles. Several of the songs on II
(namely “Alone With the Sea” and “House Carpenter,” respectively), which isn’t so surprising considering the two albums were originally meant to be released together. This idea never came to fruition, but the yearlong gap between the records’ releases allowed ample time for the band to mature and patch up the few flaws that their debut presented. And mature they did. Volume II
is a more developed, polished and captivating version of its predecessor that never loses its razor-sharp focus throughout its entirety.
The biggest out of the few changes in Hurt’s style is the addition of a mellower, acoustic side of the band. Volume 1
relied mainly on epic, metallic rockers that rarely let up until the album reached its conclusion. On II
, the band mainly drops the metal influences (except for one highly effective moment in the bridge of “Summers Lost”) and adapt a softer, more progressive sound. The acoustic masterpiece “Alone With the Sea” is the best example of this maturation--- when Loren gently croons over the banjo chords forming the song’s uplifting chorus, he sounds more at peace than he’s ever been in his career. Sure, the song ends on a somber note with the repeating stanza “I’ve strangely become immune/to the thought of seeing you/and the smell of cheap perfume/with all the liquor I’ve consumed,” but the contrast is beautiful. “Assurance” follows suit in spectacular fashion, its piano-infused verses and soaring guitar work from Spatola in the chorus serving as a perfect soundtrack for a nostalgic night in an empty bar. These tracks provide the ideal complement to those in which the band recreates some of Volume 1
’s biting edge, namely “Summers Lost” and the powerful opening riffs of singles “Ten Ton Brick” and “Loded.”
Still, the emotion remains the driving force behind Hurt’s music. When “Abuse of SID” erupts into a full-fledged Pink Floyd-esque prog-rocker and Loren shouts “I’m flawed, desperate, angry with God” at the top of his lungs it makes the listener want to run for cover. Combine that with the gentleness of just Loren and his guitar on “Aftermath” where he pleads “Angel white, sweet love of mine, come for me from so far away” less than a minute prior, and the contrast is striking. Closer “Thank You For Listening” exemplifies this better than any other track on the record. A full-on, seven-minute letter of gratitude from the band to the listener, Loren never ceases pouring himself into the music until the final seconds tick off.
Maybe it’s the little things that make Vol. II
so special--- the sense of closure it provides after Volume 1
, the ubiquitous orchestration courtesy of Loren, the beautiful outros found in “Talking to God” and “Et Al,” the crisp, muted drumming from Evan Johns in “Better” and “On the Radio,” or the never-ending string of solos that end both “Thank You For Listening” and the album. Maybe it’s the near-flawless instrumentation that never skips a beat and the passion Loren so blatantly wears on his sleeve. Or maybe it’s a combination of all these factors that add up to make Vol. II
a skillful blend of hard rock, progressive, art rock and metal, the magnum opus of Hurt’s quality collection of material and modern hard rock as well.
“I finally found out how, cause you finally showed me how it feels to be you, and to be me.”