Review Summary: A strong follow up to a groundbreaking debut release, Black Heart Market is clearly a well thought out, more technical album, however it lacks the heaviness of The Goswel Divorce.
Black Heart Market Review
After going on hiatus following their 2009 debut release 'The Goswell Divorce', the announcement that Hester Prynne were going to craft a new album depending on fans donating into their 'kickstarter' account left deathcore enthusiasts worldwide scraping together their hard-earned pennies to enable the band to make a follow up to, in my opinion, one of the best deathcore LP's of all time. The question is however, was it worth it?
'Black Heart Market' showcases the Kansas group in a completely new light to TGD, as it contains less typical distinguishable characterics that would be found in a deathcore album. The first impressions that I recieved from listening were not all positive as I would have hoped. The first song contains a not so great introduction section, which seems to be inspired from some weird take on jungle music? It basically sounds like it was created in a East-London garage by a DJ and someone who can open string breakdowns on a downtuned guitar if I'm being brutally honest. This was not necessarily the best start to the eagerly anticipated album for me.
The band has also implemented the use of clean vocals into their music too. This was something that took me by surprise, although the feeling of shock was not negative, nor positive. For example, Hester Prynne pull off this technique here much better than Chelsea Grin did in their abysmal 'Evolve' EP, however that is not a mean feat to achieve. The cleans work well at times, although they become repetitive and seem to be unecessary as the album progresses and the listener grows weary of them.
Now, for the positives, which this album seems to contain endless amounts of. Firstly, the lyrical content is incredible; a personal favourite of mine: 'choose your poison, and join the sick' from the album title track, 'Black Heart Market.' The pre-recorded interludes are also very well selected; in the fivth track we hear a know-it-all, angry redneck commit a murder after arguing with a cop, and in 'Dancing with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight' the snippet at the beginning of the song is of a serial killer taunting his victim. The range of vocals is also extremely impressive, with piercing highs and crushing lows being interchangeably used throughout the release.
The instrumentation is great too; the guitars complement the vocals and fit perfectly around them, and the few solos that are found in the longer tracks like 'Grimy' are pleasant on the ear as well. The drumming is rather standard however, but there are no faults admittedly, and the sound doesn't sound overly engineered. The album is mixed very well; everything fits together and I didn't have to strain to hear an individual part.
Overall, I cannot fault Hester Prynne's valiant effort with 'Black Heart Market'. It is clear that the band want to stand out from the crowd and not fit into the generic deathcore category that we all know so well. In my opinion, the proggy parts are a bit overkill at times, although I can understand that the band are trying to cater for a more broad audience. Taking this into account, I don't think Hester Prynne have written a masterpiece here, but the album deserves the credit it is due as it is evident that lots of effort has gone into this this creation. The future of Hester Prynne isn't easy to forsee, but I hope they carry on making music and build on 'Black Heart Market' with more releases. 3.5