Review Summary: In the increasingly stagnant post-hardcore, metal scene today, experimentation is becoming ever more elusive. Just as 2011 comes to a close however, a hope for home's latest entry "In Abstraction" defies trends and brings forth a refreshing, even more exp8 of 8 thought this review was well written
For the sake of whomever finds their eye looming upon this lengthy review, I'll forgo detailing my contempt of mankind for not embracing this band with a resounding cheer, or my sincere gratitude of these six men for their persistent artistic fortitude, despite their lack of aforementioned support. I'll also withhold the fact that their blend of post-metal, sludge metal, experimental, ambient rock (etc.) is unmatched and would make even groups as prolific as Isis and Thrice proud.
No, I'll skip all that, and get straight to the crux of the matter: The simple facts.
Clean vocalist Matt Ellis' atmospheric vocals dominate the majority of the music this time around; his voice seamlessly blending into the very inner workings of each song, floating just above the immersion of sound below. This is most notably demonstrated in "Weaved" in which Ellis displays his vulnerability as his tattered voice tells us his story, looking in at what once was amid a steady procession of noise. Nathan Winchell's screamed vocals offer no variation from "Realis" but that fact is in no way to their downfall, for they still pack a weighty and appropriate punch. Be it urging his fellow man to introspection in the sonic impact that is the opening track "Calm", or forcefully coercing brotherhood in the closing track, "Everything that Rises Must Converge". The back and forth (or lack thereof in some songs), provides a satisfying variation between the heavier and lighter passages of the album, keeping the listener pleasantly surprised.
The heavily-distorted instrumentation of the album too is masterful, each respectively blending into a transcendent symphony. Matt, Tanner, and Dan's combined guitar work creates an intricate sound, again engaging the listener from start to finish; from the forlorn, angst-ridden "Out of Misery, Ruin" to the restorative, hopeful feel of "Firewind", or to the tranquilizing, dynamic composition that is "Tides". The percussion throughout the album, though nothing ground-breaking, does a good job of complementing each song, building up to a resounding clash or dramatizing the calmness in a steady whir. The addition of electronic elements and the use of more keys is a welcome update to A Hope For Home's arsenal as well, which of course are done in a very natural, non-gimmicky way.
The lyricism of "In Abstraction" too has matured. It comes with a heavy amount of introspection as any veteran listener would expect to find, but this time around, with a lack of any overlying concept. The lyrics being a bit more relatable to the average Joe, yet still poetically and intellectually profound. A prime example being the closing lyrics of "The House Where You Were Born" where Ellis laments, "I used to be such a burning inception, When days ahead seemed as brilliant as morning’s light Spent my life waiting for the rising sun But the dawn has come and left me here to find- While I don’t recognize who I’ve become I’ve grown much farther from the person I once was So like the glare out from evening’s glow I’ll close my eyes and let this go."
Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where absolute gems such as this will be overlooked. Sadly,
I foresee this album forever being a cult classic for those who appreciate true artistry, but perhaps remaining untarnished is for the best. What I can say though, is that A Hope For Home has managed to once again, successfully experiment with a completely different sound, that doesn't stray too far or hover too closely to what they've already established. These six men have matured and created a true masterpiece with "In Abstraction" that offers variation, introspection, and so much reverb that a person could get lost for days on end. "In Abstraction" is also a testament to their artistic validity in the fact that despite the conventional 3-minute breakdown-laden 'whatevercore' that comprises the majority of Facedown Records, this album offers something different; despite reception, social norms, and monetary gain.
"In Abstraction" is if anything, a last hope in a dying scene, and though it will never be deservedly praised, it is an artistic triumph, that should find a welcome place in the collection of anyone who appreciates good music.