Review Summary: Despite its infinite flaws, Hawthorne Heights created an album that would create a new subculture of mall-going scene kids.
I remember the first time I heard Hawthorne Heights. It was the summer before I started sixth grade and I was playing my Linkin Park and Blink-182 CDs until they were scratched and almost unfixable. I yearned for more music then my eleven year old brain could handle. Late one night, I was flipping through MTV2 and came across the video for “Ohio Is For Lovers”. When the vocals broke out into the first chorus and Casey’s screams played through the speakers, I had no idea what I was hearing. This was new, this was entirely mind consuming. Unable to get the hook out of my head, I biked down to the Best Buy three days later to buy the album. I was captivated.
Before you get the wrong idea, though, I’ll say my disclaimer. Yes, this album is absolute garbage. The lyrics are plagued by childish rhyme structures, the vocals would make Jordan Pundik cringe, and the music has been done before and will be done a million more times before the end of my life. But if you think I was the only one who was so in awe by the sudden combination of clean vocals and light screaming, you’d be wrong.
With just one chorus, Hawthorne Heights invented a new wave of black-dressing wrist cutters (Where else do you think that stereotype came from?). With one music video, they brought about an entire sub-culture. Ultimately, The Silence In Black And White is the mall-core generation’s version of Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses: A stepping stone into heavier and more complex music, the perfect blend between mainstream and underground.
However, that’s not to say this album goes without its moments. “Speeding Up The Octaves” has a very memorable chorus, while the bridges of “Screenwriting An Apology” and “Wake Up Call” feature some of Casey’s best vocal work. "Niki FM" was every next-gen emo kid's favorite love song, and “Silver Bullet”, despite the cheesy chorus, ends with some great layered vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Taking Back Sunday record.
Aside from a nostalgic listen to “Life On Standby” or “The Transition” every now and then, I don’t pick up this record anymore. Looking back five years later, I can’t believe I was ever so fascinated by it. Yet I can still remember my eleven year old self buried in the lyric booklet, walkman on my lap, knowing that my life had just changed somehow. Because of this record’s impact on the scene, it deserves the title of a classic, regardless of how trite every idea was.