Review Summary: A "Freakshow" indeed...
State of Disgrace was an album I fell in love with instantly. Patrick McBride (Vocals), Dave Henriquez (guitar/background vocals), Dave Sullivan (Bass), and Jerry Clews (Drums) had crafted a unique sound and had managed to stand out in an all too familiar genre. While they remained relatively unknown as a band, their music was interesting enough to hold a solid spot in my playlist to this day. Their return with their second album Dystopia was personally a highly anticipated event but sadly, while a few tracks reach the quality of their debut album, most disappoint.
From the first couple of demos posted on their MySpace weeks ago, I noticed a major musical overhaul. Streamlined instrumentals, simpler lyrics and general loss of weight to their sound were readily apparent and frankly shocked me as I expected a progression, not the opposite. Now with the full release in hand, my initial fears have been confirmed. The band has gone mainstream. So much so that the majority of the tracks on the album don’t even sound like the same band from four years ago.
The first three songs, “Drug Me”, “Little Miss” and especially “Big Deal” are not only similar in sound but are equally uninspired, boring, and average at best. The only things that keep them bearable are the vocals and the recording quality. “Attraction” and “Zombie” are definitely above average and are part of the handful of songs I can actually recommend. While they still don’t sound like anything you would hear on State of Disgrace, the new musical style actually works here, with a slightly heavier instrumental track and a catchier chorus. Unfortunately we are back to free falling with the following five tunes, hitting rock bottom with “Invisible” which sounds like a Nickelback filler, seriously.
“So why the positive score?” one might ask. Well, in an unexpected turn of events, the rest of the album (or most of it) actually sounds like the Hourcast (or close to it) that I love. When initially announcing the album, the band did mention keeping their familiar sound on some of the tracks; I just didn’t think it possible after the first ten. “Blue” and “Clockwork” swiftly proved me wrong, with the first reminiscent of “God failed” and the latter taking a page from one of my favourites “Freeze” off the debut. Adding to my new found grin was “Eden Shakes”, an initially acoustic song that grows heavier, has very good lyrics and is catchy as all hell. I was singing along on my second listen.
In the end, after fully getting through Dystopia once, I felt disappointed and yet happy that this band still exists. What you’ll find here is still better than most rock albums out there, especially better than what you’ll hear on the radio. Sure many of the tunes sound average and the lyrics leave much to be desired, but the sound is clear, catchy and upbeat, with amazing vocals and a handful of gems hidden within. This album actually reminds me of how I felt about Sick Puppies and their Tri-Polar release. Disappointed at first but with time, some of the tracks really grew on me as I’m sure some will here as well. At the very least Hourcast deserves a chance.